Participant Observation: The Personal Commitment in Native Life—A Problematic Methodological Topos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

While it is well known that fieldwork started long before Malinowski, it is equally well known that the ethnographic method based on participant observation has been, since the 1920’s, taken as a foundation for anthropological research and for the scientific status of the knowledge acquired by its means. This essay has several purposes: highlighting some issues related to Malinowski’s theory and practice of research, which are full of implications not always grasped in their theoretical and methodological complexity; recalling some criticisms that have been put forward in the anthropological debate towards the notion of reflexive observation; discussing some uses and abuses of ethnographic practice in disciplinary domains other than anthropology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthnography. A Theoretically Oriented Practice
Pages313-340
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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