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Ethnographic Family Research: Opportunities and Challenges of Doing Fieldwork on Chinese Intergenerational Relations in Singapore

Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 903-903
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Journal of Comparative Family Studies
Volym: 42
Nummer: 6
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Calgary, Alberta: J. L. A. Horna


Abstract in Undetermined

This paper addresses the use of ethnographic methods in the field known as family studies. While ethnographic methods are fundamental in the anthropological study of kinship and family, quantitative methods have long dominated family studies. To grasp the ideas and actions of human beings, however, we must pay attention to their intentions and recognize that intentions are not necessarily simply pragmatic reactions to economic or political conditions. One reward of ethnographic fieldwork is that the extended timeframe enables the researcher to gain insights into the construction of meaning in everyday life. Based on the author's experiences during long-term fieldwork on intergenerational expectations and obligations in Singapore, the paper demonstrates how the role of the researcher, as well as the accumulation of ethnographic data, is shaped and constructed in interaction with informants. While an anthropological approach contributes to an in-depth understanding of family practices on the ground, it requires a high degree of self-reflexivity with regard to fieldwork relations and the interpretation of data, since the ethnographer's social position, including age, gender, class, and ethnicity/nationality, inevitably shapes the access to informants. The paper sheds light on the different aspects of fieldwork and the process of ethnographic understanding.


  • Social Work


  • ISSN: 0047-2328

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