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"How many bloody examples do you want?" - fieldwork and generalisation

Crabtree, Andy; Tolmie, Peter; Rouncefield, Mark

Authors

ANDY CRABTREE andy.crabtree@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Computer Science

Peter Tolmie

Mark Rouncefield



Abstract

The title of this paper comes from comments made by an ‘angry’ ethnographer during a debriefing session. It reflects his frustration with a certain analytic mentality that would have him justify his observations in terms of the number of times he had witnessed certain occurrences in the field. Concomitant to this was a concern with the amount of time he had spent in the field and the implication that the duration of fieldwork somehow justified the things that he had seen; the implication being that the more time he spent immersed in the study setting the more valid his findings and, conversely, the less time, the less valid they were. For his interlocutors, these issues speak to the grounds upon which we might draw general insights and lessons from ethnographic research regarding the social or collaborative organisation of human activities. However, the strong implication of the angry ethnographer’s response is that they are of no importance. This paper seeks to unpack his position and explicate what generalisation turns upon from the ethnographer’s perspective. The idea that human activities contain their own means of generalisation that cannot be reduced to extraneous criteria (numbers of observations, duration of fieldwork, sample size, etc.) is key to the exposition.

Start Date Sep 21, 2013
Publication Date Sep 21, 2013
Publisher Springer Publishing Company
Pages 21-25
Book Title ECSW 2013: Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work
ISBN 978-1-4471-5345-0
APA6 Citation Crabtree, A., Tolmie, P., & Rouncefield, M. (2013). "How many bloody examples do you want?" - fieldwork and generalisation. In ECSW 2013: Proceedings of the 13th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 21-25. doi:10.1007/978-1-4471-5346-7_1
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-5346-7_1
Publisher URL https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4471-5346-7_1
Related Public URLs https://dl.eusset.eu/bitstream/20.500.12015/2334/1/00548.pdf
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