ERIC Number: ED362911
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Aug-13
Reference Count: N/A
Methodological Issues in Documentary Ethnography: A Renewed Call for Putting Cameras in the Hands of the People.
The participatory method of image production holds enormous potential for communication and journalism scholars operating out of a critical/cultural framework. The methodological potentials of mechanical reproduction were evident in the 1930s, when Walter Benjamin contributed three enduring concepts: questioning the art/document dichotomy; placing the tension between cultural/ritual and political functions on the research agenda; and noting the radical, transformative potential of mechanical reproduction, which can operate as a springboard for methodological design. Three examples from an ethnographic pilot study of tin miners' radio in Bolivia demonstrate both the utility of the participatory method and the varieties of participation. The first example, a videotaping of a daily radio program in which housewives discussed issues in a public place, illustrates that participation in the program was not mechanically mandated but pragmatically woven into the subject matter emerging in the conduct of the program. It also illustrates that culture-specific norms governed procedures of participation. The second example, involving video shot in public places by local people, throws into question the dominance of ideology as the binding element in alternative media. The third example, videotape of a funeral of two miners, illustrates the value of participatory methods in documenting events that would otherwise be unavailable to the researcher. The use of video in this case made its most significant contribution to the research community by offering tangible products to the local culture and history. (A figure presenting principal methodological issues guiding image-making in research is included. Contains 23 references.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Bolivia; Film Theory
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (76th, Kansas City, MO, August 11-14, 1993).