Throughout our discussion on ethnographic methods and art practice we discussed David Morley’s 2006 book Visions of the Real chapter The ethnographic arts, against the background of Hal Foster’s 1996 book Return of the Real and the chapter The artist as ethnographer. We outlined some of the conditions of an ethnographic art practice, becoming evident that critical reflexivity is a major issue. In artistic terms, this may mean totally pushing the boundaries of established conventions pertaining to the evidence provided by the document. Morley is really good at identifying the disruptive use of fiction introduced by artists in their ethnographic methodologies.

However we still face the question of how to apply these methodologies derived from social and cultural theory to art practice, so it may be productive to wrap up the debate by comparing the ethnographic method with the tenets of the grounded theory.

Task: Read Genzuk’s synthesis of ethnographic research and Dick’s grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch (identified with action-research), both developed from within the context of social sciences. Compare these approaches and outline 3 ways of working that you can draw from their methodologies to develop your project.

The research processes you have learned and the thesis structures you have internalised are those of hypothesis testing, not of emergence. Doing grounded theory well is partly a matter of unlearning some of what you have been taught or have acquired through your reading…In particular, the place of literature is quite different. So is the way in which both methodology and theory develop gradually as data and interpretations accumulate…Grounded theory has its own sources of rigour. It is responsive to the situation in which the research is done. There is a continuing search for evidence which disconfirms the emerging theory. It is driven by the data in such a way that the final shape of the theory is likely to provide a good fit to the situation…In fact, Glaser suggests two main criteria for judging the adequacy of the emerging theory: that it fits the situation; and that it works — that it helps the people in the situation to make sense of their experience and to manage the situation better.[ grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch]

Respond: In this blog, follow your classmates posts and choose one to leave a comment.

Timeline: Monday, February 2nd (task), Wednesday, February 4th (respond).

Thank you!


About paula roush

I am a Lisbon-born artist based in London, UK. I am the founder of msdm, a platform for art practices that are mobile-strategies-[of]-display-[and]- mediation. It is a platform for both individual and collaborative work, shown in the context of exhibitions, publications, conferences and teaching/seminars. I work with photography, archives, found material and performance through editing strategies that investigate notions of authorship, authenticity, history and memory. I am interested in publishing as artists’ practice and as platform to explore the intersections between the roles of artist, editor and curator. My current projects look at ideas of (re) production in the work of art, resulting in publications in several formats that encompass the hand-made, the print on demand and the ebook.
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