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Fieldwork: 'being there'

See ethnography in action. Here, Hedda is doing fieldwork in mining-affected communities in New South Wales.

As we have established in the proceeding steps, ethnography is at the centre of what an anthropologist does and how an anthropologist works. Central to ethnography is the practice of fieldwork. When conducting fieldwork, the ethnographer collects data through talking to people, conducting participant observation and becoming immersed in the local social structure and culture. Essentially, fieldwork requires ‘being there’.

Ethnography is a process that consists of getting to know the culture through long-term, intimate fieldwork, collection of rich data that allow the anthropologist to explore the culture or phenomena under investigation in depth, and the interpretation of this data through analysis and theoretical application. Fieldwork can last for months, a year or even years. In Hedda’s case, she is currently working on a long-term fieldwork in mining-affected communities in New South Wales. This project consists of three different case study areas, or fields, of which the township of Gloucester is one of these.

Over the next few steps you will get to come on fieldwork with her to Gloucester.

How does Hedda gather her data?

Watch this video and identify the ways by which Hedda gathers data that inform my analysis of how mining affects local communities. You should find hints that helps you answer this in the footage, the dialogue between me and the participants, and the voice over. What type of data am I collecting?

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Anthropology: Understanding Societies and Cultures

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