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BSOE-144: Reading Ethnographies

BSOE-144: Reading Ethnographies

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023

If you are looking for BSOE-144 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Reading Ethnographies, you have come to the right place. BSOE-144 solution on this page applies to 2023 session students studying in BASOH, BSCANH courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: BSOE-144/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BSOE-144

Assignment Name: Reading Ethnographies

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Assignment - I


Answer the following in about 500 words each.


Q1) What is Ethnography? Discuss in detail types of ethnographies. [20]

Ans) Ethnography is a qualitative research method used in anthropology, to study and describe human cultures, social and cultural phenomena, and human behaviour in their natural settings. The term “ethnography” comes from the Greek word “ethnos” and “grapho”. The focus of ethnography is on the lived experiences and perspectives of the people being studied. Ethnography is considered a holistic approach as it tries to understand the culture as a whole, considering its various dimensions such as beliefs, values, norms, practices, and interactions and provide a rich, detailed, and nuanced understanding of the culture and social dynamics. Here are some of the main types of ethnographies:


Positivist and Functionalist Ethnography: Some of the classic ethnographies, like Argonauts of the Western Pacific by Bronislaw Malinowski, The Nuer by E.E. Evans Pritchard, and Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead, aimed to capture how natives saw the world. The ethnographers tried to have a positivist approach and collected their data as scientifically and objectively as possible using participant observation.  Every element of culture had a function and contributed to the maintenance of the whole society. The society was presumed to be in equilibrium and functioning harmoniously.  But it was soon realized that writing objectively about cultures does not describe actual and real situations.


Interpretative Approach to Ethnography: It was stressed that the real context of the situation should be taken into account in order to know how the action relates to the environment in which it is happening and what the people involved have to say about it. The aim was to generate an interpretative understanding that looked for meanings. Each item of culture makes sense only when seen in a context and what meaning does the participant in the field attaches to it.


Phenomenological Approach: By focusing on the ‘constituted meanings’, phenomenology offers a vision of the social world where people define themselves and what they value and experience the world in different ways. The idea is to make detailed observations combined with historical context and create a reflexive account from which reader can draw their conclusions.


Critical ethnography: In these ethnographies, the ethnographers used Economics, Political Science, History, and Psychology to help give a bigger picture of the social reality and to help them understand it better. For example, June Nash’s We Eat the Mines and the mines Eat Us, is a historical and contemporary account of Bolivian tin miners. Hochschild’s (1983) work on the sociology of emotions, which is not Marxist but is an example of a critical tale.


Feminist Ethnography: Women ethnographers have brought a new perspective to the way ethnographies are written and read. As done by traditional ethnographers, the power and hierarchy in the field further marginalized the women’s perspective. And feminist methodology highlighted this. Sally Slocum’s (1970) paper Woman the Gatherer: The Male Bias in Anthropology critiqued the popular conception of ‘man-the hunter’ and challenged the male-centric academy.


Virtual/online Ethnography: Virtual ethnography is a type of ethnography that is conducted online, typically through the use of social media, websites, and other digital platforms. The ethnographer studies the online interactions and activities of individuals or groups, including the ways they use digital media to express themselves and connect with others.


Autoethnography: Autoethnography is where the researcher’s thoughts and perspectives derive from their social interactions in the field form the central element of the study. It broadly refers to both the method and their product of researching and writing about personal lived experiences and their relationship to culture.


Q2) Critically examine the position of women in Mukkuvar society. [20]

Ans) The position of women in Mukkuvar society is shaped by a complex interplay of cultural norms, economic realities, beliefs, and practices that often reflect patriarchal values and gender stereotypes. While women are valued and respected for their economic contributions to the community, they also face significant barriers and challenges in terms of their social and political status.


The women within the Mukkuvar community are restricted to the domestic domain largely. Even when out, they maintain physical distance from the men. This entire distancing and freedom are carefully planned, and it depends on age and marital status of the women. While the younger unmarried women face much stricter surveillance, the women over forty and widows enjoy much freedom of movement. The space dominated by the women remains the domestic space. The public venues are all openly and easily accessible by male. This is in sharp contrast to the women who rarely access the public spaces or loiter around. Their movement outside is marked only by work. For entertainment and other purposes, they may sit on their front porches or the sandy lanes outside the homes.


Women are regarded as dangerous to men. The danger they may cause again depends on their age and social position. It is considered that a woman crossing a man’s path on his way to work turns the sea rough and crazy. Thus, they should stay out of sight of men when the latter is going for work. The fisherman's strength and wealth lie in the purity of his wife.


Within Mukkuvar Catholicism, both the good and evil sides are dominated by feminine principles. The challenging powers of the women to extend the lives of their husbands is a good example of the culturally acquired powers of the women.


Usually, Mukkuvar women are allowed to go out for work, attend the church service and carry-on regular lives during menstruation also. The fact that a girl can have children secures her position within her marital and natal family. The women here are considered to be the supreme entity who also act as a link between different generations and different households as a source of continuity.


Mukkuvars marriage takes place between daughter and sons from within the same village or nearby villages. So, the way power is played in Mukkuvar society is through the confinement of women. On the one hand while they do not have economic resources and access to public spaces. The domestic domain is regarded as the space where women exercise power.


In the Mukkuvar community, land-based activities are taken care of by the women. The woman is in charge of management and expenditure of cash as well as how the credit-based parallel economy works. In fact, the pillars of the Mukkuvar community- health systems, village environment and others are the responsibility of women. The women do not play role in the economic work as they are excluded from fishing and trade. Thus, do not have access to cultural capital associated with this occupation. Despite such debarring, the women. exercise control over resources that directly or indirectly are the factors for male dominance.


Thus, to truly understand the position of women in Mukkuvar society, it is important to recognize the ways in which patriarchal norms and gender stereotypes continue to shape women's lives and experiences.


Assignment – II


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each.


Q3) Discuss the issues and challenges to ethnography from globalization. [10]

Ans) For an ethnographic approach to globalisation, you need to know how people in your area, in your society, and in your culture see the place of your area in the global scheme of things and what they do to shape that place. These ways of thinking and acting are deeply political, and the place-making projects that each site is part of shape the very definition of the ethnographer's topic and site. As a result of globalisation, the borders between places are argued over, and people talk about what size of area is best for action. So, the choice of site also has to do with politics. So, the challenge that globalisation poses to ethnography comes from the idea of "field" and the need to provide "hard" data, which is what positivist research is all about.


Some researchers have always questioned the ideas of "field" vs. "homework," "rural" vs. "urban," and "community" vs. "corporation." They say that such dichotomies create boundaries that don't exist and are the result of racist white western discourses that don't show any other way to look at "other." Globalization, on the other hand, seems to have made these ideas useless, since the idea of location seems to have lost all of its meaning.


Gille says that these problems need to be seen in the context of how people around the world interact with each other. For Naidoo, the epistemological basis of ethnography is the study of people who are in or affected by certain situations. Sometimes, locale is hard to define, even with Marcus's attempt to put this in the context of multi-sited ethnography, which takes into account the fact that many localities are no longer isolated but are connected to the rest of the world in often complex ways. In fact, globalisation doesn't just show up as specific transnational processes at the local level; these processes often become even more localised. Macro-global processes have effects on the local level that are mediated by local institutions and states that are linked to other countries and places.


Q4) Explain with suitable examples, the Characteristics of a strong leader. [10]

Ans) A big difference between a strong leader and a weak leader is that a strong leader tells people what to do, while a weak leader asks for permission. A strong and good leader also knows that followers in a contract group need to be treated as individuals and never as a group. Their needs are different, so you don't have to make everyone happy at the same time. There are different ways for the leader to share out the earnings, or "spoils." These could be things or titles that can be given to the follower. In the game, both material resources and places of power are important. Still, being a good leader isn't just about having the right things. It's also about having the right skills. These include knowing the pragmatic rules and how they can be used, as well as how to use these rules to get the most out of the resources that come from other people and build a successful following.


Also, a leader is at his or her strongest when there are no middle leaders on the team. Middle leaders are needed to manage a large team, but they run the risk of taking over as leaders themselves. One way to avoid this is to keep an ambitious intermediate leader in check by using the "divide and rule" strategy. The leader can also bring up the idea of specialisation, in which each smaller team with an intermediate leader does only one thing and reports to the top leader. This will make it harder for any one person to pass the others and become a rival. In addition, the leader of a moral team should be in charge of the things that bring the team together.


Q5) What do you understand by interpretive research? [10]

Ans) Interpretive research is a broad research paradigm that seeks to understand and interpret the meanings, beliefs, and experiences of individuals, communities, and cultures. This approach to research is concerned with exploring and understanding complex social phenomena and is characterized by focusing on subjective experiences of individuals and communities and interpretation of meaning, rather than simply describing their behaviour or outcomes. That is interpretative researchers ‘interpret’ reality through a “sense- making” rather than a hypothesis testing process.


Interpretive research is often used in the social sciences, including sociology, anthropology, and psychology. This type of research typically employs qualitative research methods, such as in-depth interviews, participant observation, and content analysis, to gather data. Interpretive research often involves a close collaboration between the researcher and the individuals or communities being studied, as the researcher seeks to understand and interpret their perspectives. Interpretive research is particularly valuable for studying marginalized or underrepresented groups. This approach to research is also useful for exploring the cultural and historical context of individuals and communities (epistemology).


This kind of research is thus useful for exploring hidden reasons behind complex, interrelated, or multifaceted social processes, such as:

  1. Institutional politics or violence against women, where quantitative evidence may be biased, inaccurate, or otherwise hard to obtain,

  2. For building theories in areas with no or insufficient prior theory,

  3. To study context-specific, unique events or processes that only happen in certain situations,

  4. In addition to finding answers, it can also help in raising interesting and important questions which need to be addressed by future research.


Interpretive research can be viewed as dependable or authentic if two researchers assessing the same phenomenon using the same set of evidence independently arrive at the same conclusions or same researcher observing a similar phenomenon at different times arrives at similar conclusions. Transferability in interpretive research refers to the extent to which the findings can be generalized to other settings.


Assignment – III


Answer the following questions in about 100 words each.


Q6) What is Online Ethnography? [6]

Ans) Online ethnography is a subfield of ethnography that focuses specifically on the study of online communities and the behaviour of individuals in digital spaces. It is a technology mediated interaction involving conducting research and collecting data in online environments, such as social media, forums, and gaming platforms. Online ethnography deals with virtual mode of collecting information such as participant observation, interviews, and content analysis. Researchers use these methods to study the behaviour, norms, and practices of online communities, and to understand how individuals interact with digital technologies in their daily lives.


Online ethnography lets researchers examine groups they couldn't otherwise reach. It can be used to examine virtual world and online gaming behaviour. Online ethnography encompasses real-life communities that employ digital technologies in their daily lives as well as virtual communities. This sheds light on how digital technologies shape cultural behaviours and identities.

Q7) Name the different phases in which the growth of anthropology in India is divided. [6]

Ans) Anthropology in India has grown along with the country's social, political, and economic changes, helping us comprehend Indian society and culture. It usually has four phases

  1. Formative phase (18th to mid-20th century): Introduced the discipline. British colonial officials introduced anthropology to India to understand and govern the inhabitants. Anthropologists classified Indian society into castes and tribes, driven by colonial goals.

  2. Constructive phase (mid-20th century to the 1970s): Indian anthropology became nationalistic and challenged colonialism during this time. Anthropologists studied India's social, economic, and political changes and colonialism's effects.

  3. Analytical phase (1970s to the 1990s): Anthropologists were more critical of the discipline's colonial past and attempted to decolonize their study. They concentrated on cultural, economic, and political influences on Indian society.

  4. Evaluation phase (1990s to present): In this phase, anthropologists have sought to assess the contributions and limitations of the discipline, as well as its potential for addressing contemporary social and political issues.


Q8) What do you understand by virtual ethnography? [6]

Ans) Virtual ethnography refers to the study of cultures and communities in online or virtual environments. It is a subfield of ethnography, which is a method of cultural anthropology that involves immersion and close observation of a group in their natural habitat. Virtual ethnography involves conducting research and collecting data in online environments such as social media, forums, and gaming platforms. Researchers use a variety of methods, such as participant observation, interviews, and content analysis, to study the behaviour, norms, and practices of online communities. Virtual ethnography is particularly useful for studying online communities that would be difficult or impossible to access in the physical world. For example, it can be used to study the behaviour of members of a virtual world or an online gaming community.


Q9) Which are the prominent castes that the Coorgs interact with? [6]

Ans) Karnataka's Coorgs (Kodavas) are an ethnic group. They have their own culture and language and have interacted with various castes and communities in their region. Coorgs engage with famous castes like:

  1. Gowdas: This is a prominent agricultural caste that is found in southern India, including Karnataka. They have a long-standing relationship with the Coorgs and often share a common social and cultural heritage.

  2. Bunt: This is a warrior caste that has a long history of interactions with the Coorgs and is known for their martial skills.

  3. Idigas: This is a largely tribal community that is indigenous to the western ghats region of India and has had historical interactions with the Coorgs.

  4. Brahmins: Brahmins are a highly respected caste in Hinduism and have had a significant influence on the cultural and religious practices of the Coorgs.

  5. Lingayats: This is a prominent warrior caste that has a long history of interactions with the Coorgs and is known for their strong adherence to the Lingayat religion.


Q10) Why do ethnographers develop a rapport and establish relationships with the people under study? [6]

Ans) For several reasons, ethnographers get to know their subjects. First, it builds trust between the ethnographer and the participants, which is essential for acquiring insights into the culture being researched. Second, building a relationship allows the ethnographer to observe and engage in the participants' daily activities, helping them comprehend the culture. Thirdly, asking follow-up questions and delving deeper into cultural behaviours and beliefs allows the ethnographer to acquire more complex and in-depth information. Building ties with participants can also give the ethnographer a support network in unfamiliar and perhaps difficult circumstances. In conclusion, forming rapport and relationships with the individuals under study is crucial to ethnographic research and comprehending the culture being studied.

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