Methods and Meaning

Lecturer: prof. dr. D. Yanow (Part I, Methods and Meaning, ONLY)

Code: Use in TIS code 703711

Course description/literature:

Period: 31 August 2009 to 31 January 2010, whole course; Part I ends 27 October 2009

Day classes: Tuesday 15.30-17.15*, Room 01A-05 (Main Building), Part I ONLY
*Note: We will actually meet without a break, from 15.30 – 17.00.

Registration for the course
Students have to register for this subject using the VU's registration system TIS.


Part I. Methods and Meaning (September 1 – October 13)

This is an advanced course in ethnographic research methods and the interpretive methodological
grounding underlying them. It draws on lectures, in-class discussions, and field exercises, as well as
readings and two papers.

We will engage such questions as:

 Is observing a passive activity or an active construction of meaning?
 Why should a researcher be reflexive?
 What happens to "objectivity" in interpretive research?

In addition to weekly course readings, students will choose one book from the growing canon of
organizational ethnographic research (perhaps selected for its links to a possible Master's thesis). The
final course paper (due 19 October) provides an opportunity to explore the methodological issues we
take up in the weekly class meetings and in readings, to see how they are worked out in a single,
book-length research “report.” Students will analyze the methods section of the selected book and its
author’s uses of methods inductively to see what makes for research in organizational ethnography.

Part II. Thematic Reading (November-January)

Under direction of their thesis supervisor, students will read two books (500 pages) about the research
topic and/or the research area of their thesis. This literature should contribute insight into the
academic area within which thesis research will be conducted. More information will be available from
the thesis supervisor in the Thesis Workgroup. Also, the first meeting of the course will be devoted to
an overview of the MA program and the thesis process.

Part III. Research Proposal (November-January)

Guided by their thesis supervisor, students will write a research proposal. The proposal will need to be
accepted by the supervisor before the student can start his/her field research. More information will be
provided by the thesis supervisor.

Course grading: In order to proceed to Parts II and III of the course, you need to have completed
Part I. For this reason, there is no ‘re-sit’ for the Part I course paper. You will receive a grade for each
of the three parts of the Fieldwork Preparation course. Your final grade for the whole semester-long
course will be an average of these three partial grades. Please note: Professor Yanow is responsible
ONLY for the grade for the first 1/3 of this course! For Parts II and III, you will need a grade from your
thesis supervisor!

Participant observation: A guide for fieldworkers. 3rd ed. 2002 (excellent text. you are responsible for locating the others via the VU library e- journal links using the publication information provided here. Yanow. 4 ed. eds. it is not an introductory text) 2. (earlier editions ok) Gareth Morgan. H. FieldWorking: Reading and writing research. B. is by Hatch and Ann Cunliffe – try for that one. 1 (this book came out too late to order it for class this year. Readings A. Deal. Steven Ott. A guide to field research. (any edition) Mary Jo Hatch. [YSS in syllabus] For the final paper: One book from a book list to be provided at the beginning of the course.. you should read one or more of the following. Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexities of everyday organizational life. Oxford: AltaMira Press. Kathleen M. Images of organization. London: Sage. Carol A. Wels. Part I) Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea. London: Sage. ideally before class starts in September: David Silverman. 1994 (earlier editions are also good) Bonnie S. 2006 (or earlier edns. although other than this chapter. 4 or later ed. Martin's. The art of fieldwork. all are good. all of which take a multi-perspectival approach to theorizing: th Jay M. 1996. Classics in organizational theory. this is more of a classic textbook than the other books in . so the VU bookstore may have copies.” In S. (short. Reframing organizations. Interpretation and method: Empirical research methods and the interpretive turn. the library has been asked to put books on reserve] Thesis guidelines for COM Master’s students (on-line and also on Blackboard). (this is a compilation of original writings. Ybema. [* marks papers that will be uploaded to the course Blackboard page. Oxford: Oxford University Press. These include FSW’s Rules and Regulations for thesis procedures in re. 2006. 3 ed.. several editions are out. DeWalt. If you have never taken a course in organizational studies. you should read one or more of the following (listed in descending order of preference). Wadsworth. eds. NY: M E Sharpe.) rd John Lofland and Lyn H. DeWalt and Billie R. Interpreting qualitative data. Organization theory. For this course (i. London: Pine Forge Press. Armonk. Bolman and Terrence E. Methods and Meaning I. 1996. 2002. Boston: Bedford/St. D. 2009. ch. London: Wadsworth. and F. Lofland. Dr. online) Harry F. (2nd ed. Bailey. London: AltaMira Press. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Additional articles or book chapters. Sunstein and Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater.e. as noted. Background readings in 1) Ethnographic Methods and 2) Organizational Studies 1. basic) Kees van der Waal. 1995. Analyzing social settings.. “Getting going: Organizing ethnographic fieldwork. Wolcott. ‘Methods and Meaning’ is not an introductory course. If you have never taken a course in ethnographic or qualitative methods. Kamsteeg. or The American Bookstore/Het Spui. Nencel uses this in her classes. 2008.. Shafritz and J. all COM students may find interesting topics here. Sage. although I would recommend any from the 4th edition on) th Lee G. eds. student and advisor responsibilities. Part I.

2 . I expect you to arrive in class on time and stay until class is dismissed.. 1992. Dam Square). nor is there a make-up (2 sitting) date for the paper.15 (formally). Attend to the sounds of the place. and we will therefore end 15 minutes early (at 17. I will feel free to call on you to share your remarks with the class as a whole or.. IV. In some cases. written in English (for Methods and Meaning) = 1/3 of final grade for Fieldwork Preparation (whole course). in psychology and are familiar with experimental and/or statistical analyses). . ed. Consider: How does this research work differ from experimental research? from statistical analysis? III. For every half hour the paper is late. If attendance is a problem for you. Do it before the 2 class. The final paper is due by 17. this pre-class exercise nd should help you understand the issues we will be engaging in the course.g.00).g.. especially chapter 1. Mode of assessment: Participation in weekly discussions + Final paper. Go to a public space (e. i. You are responsible for your absences. Please do not ask me to give you permission to be absent. "Ontological and interpretive logics in organizational studies. Class will meet from 15. I suggest you consider taking the class some other time. 2. 3. coffee/juice. 1987. Take notes on your observations. I expect you to be courteous to your fellow students and me." Methods 1. We will meet without a break (so take care of your food. language. Repeat this 2 or 3 times. in person. I will ask you to leave. Think about building a theory of this setting and/or activity from your noted observations. and a late paper will in any event earn no more than an 8. as marked in the syllabus. 5. the objects (physical artifacts) in it. the Central Station. 1973). this list) This multi-perspectival approach is encapsulated in Dvora Yanow. That way. including of these conversations. you took your B. You are expected to come prepared to class. the entrance to the VU Main Building. Begin to categorize the people. All students should be familiar with: Clifford Geertz.00 on 19 October.30 to 17. please do not email me about your absence. sounds. unless it is an emergency). 4. You are expected to hand in written work when it is due. If this occurs. if necessary. primarily. having completed the assigned readings and/or field assignments before the lecture so that you have the necessary background and vocabulary to comprehend the lecture and in-class discussion. this will mean coming prepared to discuss particular readings in an informed and thoughtful manner. At some point. I do not make my lecture notes available. other sights. This means. your grade will drop by one point. and other needs beforehand!). find a comfortable place to park yourself for half an hour. that is your choice (although I appreciate it when you let me know ahead of time. 73-89 (a copy is on the course Blackboard page) 3. the people who are in and/or move through it and their actions and interactions.e. The interpretation of cultures (Basic Books. 2006) II. objects. This means no extended "side conversations" during lectures.. Expectations and Policies 1. Engineering culture (Temple University Press. nd Gideon Kunda. and observe the setting. we can both get our work done nd in a timely fashion! There is no exam for this course. Do you see patterns of activity emerging? Describe them. except as otherwise announced.A. go up to someone and strike up a conversation about something relevant to the setting or that person that you are curious about. Background assignment If you have never done an ethnographic or other field research project (e.

10 (Weldes). 2 (Hawkesworth) *Dvora Yanow. . 1 (Yanow). Anshuman Prasad and Pushkala Prasad. Bring to class: Notes from Assignment #1. 20 (Yanow) *Merlijn J. Organizational Research Methods 5/1: 4-11. 7 (Schaffer). Sage. WHAT IS THIS? 2 8 September What is ‘organizational’ ‘ethnography’? Ethnography as tools (method). 2009. V. Lecture and Reading Schedule Note: Assigned literature is to be read in advance of that day’s class meeting. Quite an experience: Using ethnography to study local government. text (writing).1979. Methods 1. 73-89. 22 (Schwartz-Shea and Yanow). Qualitative Research in Organisations and Management (forthcoming). Ontological and interpretive logics in organizational studies.1987. Optional: Gareth Morgan. chs. 8 (Pader). Dr. 6 (Soss). The coming of age of interpretive organizational research. 9 (McHenry). chs. *Dvora Yanow. Images of organization. Organizational ethnography and methodological angst: Myths and challenges in the field. Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis. London: Ashgate. 21 (Pachirat). See separate assignment sheet. (any edition) Gibson Burrell and Gareth Morgan. Ida Sabelis PART I. Introduction. and sensibility (being there!) Think: Where does meaning come from? How do we make sense of what we observe? What distinguishes ethnographic research from other forms of research into organizational life? What makes organizational ethnographies different from other forms of ethnographic research? Are there special characteristics of ethnographic writing that distinguish it from other genres of research writing? Read: YSS. YSS. Critical Policy Analysis 2/2: 143-59. 2008. Week Date Subject Assignments st 1 1 September Overview of the 1 semester program Begin course reading and of the Master’s thesis process – Do Assignment #1 (due: next week). 2002. Choose: Book to read and analyze for final paper. van Hulst. ch.

eds. 2009 (in press). Due via email: Choice of book for final assignment. The interplay between theory and method. and Frans Kamsteeg. ch. Jesper B. How do you know? 4 22 Research design: The logic of September abductive logic Think: How do you know something? How do you plan a research project to find out about something? Note: The discussion about what goes into How does one think about crafting a research proposal? The ‘field’ is different from what I expected – a manuscript (versus a proposal) is central now what do I do? Is ethnography done via recipe. Organization Science 19/6: 907-918. and Mitchell. ch. Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexity of everyday life. Terence R. or do I have choices to make? to the final paper assignment. Harry Wels. 1 (Yanow).. Academy of Management Review 32/4: 1145–1154. Locke. In Sierk Ybema. plus writing partners’ names. 2008. Karen. Political ethnography: What immersion brings to the study of power. Golden-Biddle.. 2007. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Van Maanen. Karen. ch. Dvora. 5 29 Issues in organizational ethnography I: September ‘But I thought we were friends???!!!’ On research relationships and ethics Think: What is involved in “accessing” the research field? How does one manage one’s own identity. *Yanow. 5 (Schwartz-Shea). London: Sage. ch. Read: *Michael Agar.3 15 Knowing/doing/interpreting: From Think: Where do these ideas come from? Why are they important beyond the realm of research September God/church/‘man’ to ‘science’ to design? What kinds of ontological and epistemological presuppositions or claims do ethnographic humanistic thought again methods rest on? How are these different from other sorts of presuppositions? Read: YSS. Dvora Yanow. 2 (Hawkesworth) Part II. In Edward Schatz. 2009. Sørensen. On the ethnographic part of the mix. Making doubt generative: Rethinking the role of doubt in the research process. in the field? What is entailed in being a researcher at the same time that one is an observer (with whatever degree of participation)? How do I get ‘insider’ (emic) knowledge from ‘my’ ‘informants’ – and is that using people as means toward my ends? Should organizational ethnographers just study organizations. *Schwartz-Shea. Martha S. or should they also be involved in helping organizations improve? Is this still science? . and Feldman. 13. Dear author. in all its aspects. 3.. Dvora. Peregrine and Yanow. YSS. Organizational Research Methods (forthcoming). dear reader: The third hermeneutic in writing and reviewing ethnography. 2009 (in press). John. Reading and writing as method: In search of trustworthy texts. ed.

Martha S. Warren. In Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexity of everyday life. ch. men and ethnography. Herbert. Beyond complicity: The case for engaged ethnography. Patricia Golden. Peacock. Paul. 10. ed. *Sykes. Harry Wels. Kamsteeg. Michele Tracy. B. *Gans. Sierk Ybema. Ellen and Leap. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Kamsteeg.E. Michael. New York: Academic Press. ch. NY: Routledge. 2009 (in press). 1996. and Frans Kamsteeg. William L. eds. Jeannine. Optional: Bell. Berkeley: University of California Press. Yanow. eds. ch. 1974. Robert. culture. Diane. In S. and Society. reflexivity. eds. Simon and Hughes. Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexities of everyday organizational life. Peter. D. Dvora Yanow. and Frans Kamsteeg. Read: Feldman. Woman. Bell. *Ghorashi. 1982. 2009 (in press). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Wels. 1988. David. and Karim. how can we support our ‘truth claims’? Does researcher power affect what we do? Is there a political character to our research? . Gender issues in field research. & ‘truth claims’ in organizational ethnography? How does researcher knowledge and background shape what we observe? What and how we interpret? If we can’t attain objectivity. Walnut Creek. How would you know if you were ‘wrong’? 6 6 October Issues in organizational ethnography II: Think: What does it mean to be ‘objective’? What does objectivity require? Can we make that happen Positionality. 2004. Hibbert. Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexities of everyday organizational life. M. 2009 (in press). Women in the field. In S. Rosaldo. Yanow. skim the rest. 1986. ch. 12. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. London: Sage. ‘But I thought we were friends?’ Life cycles in engaged research. Peggy. 1993. London: Sage. ed. Cultivating development: An ethnography of aid policy and practice. London: Sage.. Sierk Ybema. Wazir Kahan. Louise. Davydd and Levin. Itasca. Michele and Lamphere. Reflections of a woman anthropologist: No hiding place. Ybema. nd Golde. 2 ed. Halleh and Wels. and F. When the ‘subject’ and the ‘researcher’ speak together: Co-producing organizational ethnography. Introduction. Wels.. UK: Pluto Press. Part III.. Out in the field: Reflections of lesbian and gay anthropologists. H. London: Sage. Gaining access. Nic. Personal journal: B. D. 2006. Gendered fields: Women. Manda. Carol A. 2003. On the methods used in this study. 49–59. Harry. London: Sage. Harry Wels. Lewin. *Beech. 11. Introduction to action research. 2 ed. In Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexity of everyday life. CA: Altamira. In The Research Experience. and F. Caplan. IL: F. Chris and Treleaven. eds. eds. Mosse. 4. and Berger. and McInnes. Ybema.. H. Dvora Yanow. Morten. Cesara. MacIntosh. 2009 (in press). Pat. Critical action research and organizational ethnography. nd Greenwood. 1976. *Down. Lesley. eds. eds.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ms. Appealing work: An investigation in how ethnographic Academy of Management Journal 40/1: 9. Wall and Peter P. 516–29. texts convince. In Brooke Ackerly. In Barbara Czarniawska and Heather Höpfl. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Political ethnography: What immersion contributes to the study of power. and Stephanie Mackie-Lewis. 2008. 2002. In Caleb R. Denzin and Yvonna S. Karen and Locke. Jane Dutton. power. eds. eds... Writing: A method of inquiry. . Analyze them in light of the 2 reading below. Positioning “security” and securing one’s position: The researcher’s role in investigating “security” in Kyrgyzstan. ch. Carol. dress by female administrative employees. 2009 (in press). ch. Richardson. Casting the other: The production and maintenance of inequalities in work organizations.” Prepared for presentation at the European Association of Social Anthropologists (Ljubljana. 2008. Norman K. When nationalists are not separatists: Discarding and recovering academic theories while doing fieldwork in the Basque region of Spain. Navigating by attire: The use of YSS. Golden-Biddle. 1994. 26-30 August). Cyrus Ernesto. Karen.. Bring copies to class! We will analyze them together. evaluative criteria. ed. CA: Sage. “On methodological relics: Etic outsiders. Read: YSS. 10. Harquail. Sierk. 2008. and fieldwork relationships. NY: Cambridge University Press. 2006. Maria Stern. 4 (Yanow). & written texts Think: What makes ethnographic (and other forms of interpretive) research trustworthy? What is the In class – bring these 2 papers with you! relationship between the characteristics of ethnographic writing and the trustworthiness of the researcher’s claims? Anat Rafaeli. talk: Time and collective identity change. ed.” nd Manuscript under review. Fieldwork in difficult environments: Methodology as boundary work in development research. ch. “Temporal identity *Auntie Dvora’s Guide to Writing. Do: Look over the 2 articles listed to the left. 7 13 October ‘Thick’ research and ‘thick’ writing: Trustworthiness. L. Celia V.. 91-107. Mollinga. Read: 1997. Feminist methodologies for international relations. London: Routledge. Thousand Oaks. Casting the native subject: Ethnographic practice and the (re)production of difference. 43-67. 13 (Shehata) *Timothy Pachirat. Political ethnography: What immersion contributes to the study of power. and sight. The Political in political ethnography: Reflections from an industrialized slaughterhouse on perspective. 2009 (in press). ch. eds. In Edward Schatz. emic insiders. *Zirakzadeh. Optional: Pushkala Prasad and Anshuman Prasad.. 5 (Schwartz-Shea). Organization Science 4: 595–616. Cohn. Laurel. *Ybema. In Handbook of qualitative research. *Wilkinson. Berlin: Lit Verlag. ed. Claire. *Lorraine Nencel and Dvora Yanow. Lincoln. Motives and methods: Using multi-sited ethnography to study US national security discourses. 45. In Edward Schatz. and Jacquie True. 1993.

FINAL PAPER DUE!!! 9 26 October Exam period No exam in this course! 10 1 November– Part II. under Read: Books and articles suggested by thesis supervisor 31 January direction of thesis supervisor. 31 January direction of thesis supervisor. 10 1 November Part III. in which case you need to speak with me in person to discuss an alternate due date).8 19 October Lecture free period Final paper due by 17. see grading policy above (unless you have an emergency.00. Thematic Reading. . Research Proposal. under Write: The proposal for the ethnographic field research you wish to conduct.