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How to Do Qualitative Research. Do the Olympics cause their audience to act differently than when they are watching any other popular TV show? This question was chosen to clearly outline the process of ethnography, and how it is useful in f

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Introduction

Mini Project 1. Introduction: Qualitative research is about asking questions and gathering information through words, to then later analyze. One way of doing this is through ethnography. But before any research can be done, there must be a research question. In this case, "Do the Olympics cause their audience to act differently than when they are watching any other popular TV show?" This question was chosen to clearly outline the process of ethnography, and how it is useful in finding out the information needed to answer this research question. Methodology: An ethnography is "A Research approach to understanding the culture of a group (patterns of behaviour/attitudes, how they create meaning), by immersing oneself in the activities of the specific group over a period of time and then writing up a descriptive summary." (Savage 3). An ethnographic approach includes being engaged in and listening to conversations, taking regular notes and collecting "artifacts" of the group being studied (Savage 7). All of these things later help in writing up a summary of findings that where gathered from the ethnography. There are two main types of ethnography, first there is an overt ethnography where the participants are told they are being observed. This type of ethnography is most commonly used and is less risky because the participants are aware of the study that is taking place. ...read more.

Middle

This is because the study was about to view two different settings, one of subjects watching a popular TV show (American Idol), and one of subjects watching the Olympic Games. This allowed for a very good comparison between the two, and made answering the research question fairly easy. While doing the ethnography in both settings, being a "fly on the wall" allowed the researcher to observe how the subjects acted in both situations without being noticed. The setting also helped in disguising the researcher, because the subjects were just told it was homework, or they were used to the researcher being on the computer anyways. If this study were to be conducted as an in-depth interview, the results would be quite different. The interviewee may not know how they react when they're watching television, or may not notice that they act differently and vise versa, which would then make it difficult to get the desired information. This would put the study at a halt because no relevant information would have been gathered. Conducting an ethnography is the only real way to go about answering this research question. There is a certain level of control that comes with doing an ethnography for this question because the researcher is unknown, this also ensures that the subjects are acting the way the normally would and not acting the way the think they should act. ...read more.

Conclusion

This leads to another question about ethics and who should be harmed in that case. If the researcher is in danger of being harmed if they were to tell the subject that they were being studied, and if the researcher did not tell the subject, then it is considered unethical because the subject is being lied to. Does this issue then become an issue of choosing the greater good? In which case, who decides what the greater good is? Second, when doing an ethnography there is not always something useful to take note of. This causes ethnography to be very time consuming because the research must wait until they have all the information needed which may take a very long time if nothing is happening. This causes a problem because there is no guarantee that anything will happen at all that would help the researcher answer their research question. Conclusion: In discussing using ethnography to answer the question of "Do the Olympics cause their audience to act differently than when they are watching any other popular TV show?" and what was learned, it is safe to conclude that ethnography is the best way to approach a question like this. This is largely due to the method being more successful at gathering information than it's alternative, and because there are a number of way that is can be performed to ensure that the researcher is able to get the information needed. ...read more.

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