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Crafting Ethnography

Crafting Ethnography

  • Paul Atkinson - Research Professor in Sociology at Cardiff University

May 2022 | 176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
This final book in Paul Atkinson’s celebrated quartet on ethnographic research investigates material culture and its relationship to sensory ethnography. Building on the author’s recent fieldwork, the book showcases how materials, techniques, tools and perspectives combine with the five senses to inform ethnographic methods.

Filled with images and hands-on examples of encounters with crafts and craft workers, the book takes you on a sensory journey through glassblowing, woodworking, silversmithing, photography, life drawing, and perfume blending. These fieldwork snapshots provide insight into the ethnography of knowledge, skill, and craft.

Helping to inform more reflective fieldwork, this book explores how analytical perspective varies based on the researcher and their physical environment. If you are looking to hone or expand your ethnographic practice, Paul shows you the exciting possibilities and implications of applying ethnographic methods to new contexts and media.

Chapter 1: Ethnographic Instances
Chapter 2: Ethnographic Knowing
Chapter 3: Hot Glass: Embodied Learning
Chapter 4: Clay: Tools and Turnings
Chapter 5: Two Spoons: Wood and Silver
Chapter 6: Looking and Observing: Life-Drawing
Chapter 7: Photography: Gaze and Resistance
Chapter 8: The Craft of Ethnography

Paul Atkinson, one of sociology’s most distinguished ethnographers, has written a remarkable, readable work. Deeply personal and richly analytic, he demonstrates the importance of embodied experience and practical knowledge in making both craft objects and ethnographic texts. Describing his training in shaping wood, silver, glass, and other crafts, materiality and performance are exquisitely joined. This final volume of Atkinson’s methodological quartet caps a project that demonstrates how field methods in the hands of a gifted practitioner truly matter.

Gary Alan Fine
Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, author of Talking Art

Through ‘thick participation’ we learn with our bodies, and our communication involves much more than words. In this lovely book, Paul Atkinson embarks on an apprenticeship of the senses to show how there can be, as he puts it, 'a lot to be learned from a little'. 

Tia DeNora
University of Exeter, University of Bergen

This fourth of a quartet of magnificent books on ethnography explores the value of an ‘aliquot’ of fieldwork, aiming at learning much from little instead of little from (too) much data. During thick participation in various sites of craft and artistic activity detailed attention is given to the practical activities of making and doing. In their context methodological issues of the craft of (sensory) ethnography are discussed and illuminating theoretical ideas developed. This book is brilliant and a must-read for every ethnographer.

Thomas S. Eberle
University of St. Gallen

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