Ethnographic Writing and Relationships with Research Subjects

1385 Words 6 Pages
Anthropologists conduct research in order to answer specific questions about a particular group of people and their culture. Most anthropologists use fieldwork to collect their data, which is then interpreted within their ethnographic writing. When collecting their data, anthropologists use many different approaches such as developing relationships with their informants, but do not illustrate these relationships in their actual writing. Anthropologists Claire E. Sterk and Philippe Bourgois are two of the anthropologists that emphasize their relationships and the importance of gaining trust of their informants in their perspective articles studied. In Bourgois’ article “Crack in Spanish Harlem” and Sterk’s article “Tricking and Tripping: …show more content…
She found this method though tedious and painful an accurate and non-biased way of understanding the true essence of prostitution and what the women have to go through. She stresses the importance of trust in these relationships, because it would ultimately provide the specific information needed for her ethnography. Keith Bletzer calls Sterk a ‘field instrument’ and says that the anthropologist, “strives toward ethnography where self is the field instruments to learn about ‘the other’” (Bletzer 2003: 261) She explains one particular way she was able to gain the women’s trust, “Being supportive and providing practical assistance were the most visible and direct ways for me as the researcher to develop a relationship” (Sterk 2003: 6). She then continues to say, “Gradually, my role allowed me to become a part of these women’s lives and to build rapport with many of them” (Sterk 2003: 6). Being supportive towards the women and interacting in their daily lives opened doors to closer observation to discover the difficulties they went through, which essentially was the purpose of her studies (Sterk: 2003: 17). Bletzer writes:
“Sterk's description of the field provides a contrast to cross-cultural fieldwork as an initiatory means to gain membership in the guild of anthropology; she describes entree and how data were gathered…” (Bletzer 2001: 261).
This method though good, gave Sterk some difficulty, because of her personal relationship and
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