chapter  14
13 Pages

Accounting for Accounts: Crafting Ethnographic Validity Through Team Ethnography

ByJoelle Evans, Ruthanne Huising, Susan S. Silbey

A number of early “classics” in ethnographic sociology conducted research in teams (e.g., Becker, Greer, Hughes, & Strauss, 1961; Gouldner, 1954). With the recent resurgence of interest in ethnographic research, we see some projects conducted in multisited teams (e.g., Anderson, 2000; Burawoy, 1998; Cress & Snow, 2000; Heimer, 2008; Newman, 2009), although by and large, a single ethnographer still more often goes into the field alone for extended periods of time and subsequently produces an individually authored account (e.g., Blee, 2003; Duneier, 1994, 1999; Espeland, 1998; Fine, 2008, 2009; Heimer, 1989; Wacquant, 1998, 2002; Wagner-Pacifici, 2000). The solo ethnographer generally remains the most common model in organizational studies, urban sociology, and anthropology, and yet it may not always be the most appropriate model, particularly for those heading into the field for the first time or for those who wish to study large organizations or complexly coordinated distributed practices characteristic of many contemporary phenomena. In this chapter, we describe our experiences using a team model of ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on its implications for training and, more generally, for improving the validity of ethnographic fieldwork.