A week in the field and some reflections

Some might imagine ones first week in the field as being a very social one – with lots of handshaking, eating, getting to know people, sharing in any festivities, etc… It would be that time where you make the big “first impression”, and where you would first meet those “key informants”.

I took a different strategy, and I’m not sure it was for the better. I spent the last week reading Bourdieu. You see, I had hopes that Bourdieu would provide magical theories that would instantly transform the way I saw what was going on around me. What I didn’t know, is that Bourdieu’s book “Reproduction in Society, Education and Culture” reads like a math text (with some math texts being easier to read). Also, his work is mostly a series of generalizations that make a lot more sense once you get to the end.

Maybe this is a strategy of academic rhetoric, by starting general and ending specific (or just staying general) it forces the mind to try out all the possibilities, to argue with the text, to fight it as much as possible, until at the end you are given the crumb of context your mind craved. In this way reading Bourdieu is work, since every word is carefully chosen not to make immediate sense, it is impossible to wander off, or to impose “common sense” meanings and interpretations.  It forces you to take time to think. (time does not fly when reading this book).

So I now agree very much with Julian Hopkins who recommended that one seperate oneself from academic essays during the fieldwork period. However, since I started on this path, I’ll finish it. Next book: “A theory of practice”. [the intro to the Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture book makes it clear that it should not be read alone.]

Other developments:

  • I picked up a “Zen Stone Plus” creative mp3 player which claimed to be able to record lectures – the mic however is complete garbage, and while it makes a great mp3 player, for interviews its not very good [it works, just not well].
  • I’m not using twitter much… I’ll keep toying with it though.
  • I may move the blog to a private host so I can build a geeky collaborative project management website (aka throw in some wiki’s, forums, surveys, etc).

One response to this post.

  1. Julian Hopkins’ recommendation sounds really sensible, but I think that it depends on the nature of ones field. I have found that crunching hard theory is sometimes a big distraction (and really frustrating if fieldwork fatigue sets in), but I know I would have missed out on a lot if I had not kept on reading some other works… largely empirical works I probably should add.


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