Doing Ethnography

Authored by: Dorothy Pawluch , Arthur McLuhan , William Shaffir

The Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415531412
eBook ISBN: 9781315668925
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we discuss the ethnographic approach rooted in the American pragmatist tradition in sociology as it developed at the University of Chicago around the turn of the twentieth century and found expression in symbolic interactionism. We begin by considering briefly the pragmatist foundations of symbolic interactionism in the work of John Dewey, Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead. We discuss the elaboration of Mead’s writing in the work of Herbert Blumer and Blumer’s methodological contributions. Our focus then shifts to the empirical practices and principles of ethnographic research that developed out of this tradition. Finally, this chapter will briefly demonstrate the enduring relevance and influence of the pragmatist tradition by discussing some of the earliest ethnographies as well as more recent work informed by a symbolic interactionist perspective.

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