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Ethnographies are tomes. Although often the writing style lets people read them quickly, when one gets assigned to a class, at first there’s always an audible groan.

231/365: Yay! Books!

Ethnographies also often seem rather mysterious. We idealize the process of going out into the field. Honestly, we can’t help doing that because the writing itself is often sanitized of all of the messy starts, all of the days of problems. So much so that it often seems like you have to be the right type of person to write an ethnography or include ethnographic work within your research. When I was taking my Advanced Interviewing and Ethnography seminar with Cameron Macdonald, she told us of a famous sociologist who would send students out into the field with little training: “Most of you will fail, some of you are ethnographers.”

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