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Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 20: Fielding Ethnographic Teams: Strategy, Implementation and Evaluation
John F. Sherry Despite the heroic view of ethnography as the solitary pursuit of the maverick scholar, the enterprise has long been conducted as an extreme team sport. The holism espoused in data collection and analysis is often most eﬀectively achieved by a group, rather than an individual. Arguably, even individual ﬁeldwork and interpretation are best served by a multiphrenic, extended self in constant conversation with that internal voice comprising the portfolio of literatures that guides the hermeneutic tacking that is the ethnographic quest. Remember, pace Whitman, we contain multitudes, and this introjection of mentors and nemeses disposes us by nature to be team players. How much more interesting, productive and challenging to shift from psychodrama to actual teamwork in contemplation of consumer behavior. I have written this chapter as an essay rather than as a more conventional academic tract, to reﬂect my personal experience of ethnographic teamwork and to oﬀer some avuncular advice to readers capable on their own of sourcing material on ethnographic methods and perspectives. While I have appended a few references to this chapter, my intent in these few pages is practical rather than philosophical. I have worked in ethnographic teams for over three decades across a range of marketplaces, industries, categories and households. I have developed some strong preferences and biases in the conduct of this work, many of which I share in the balance of this text. Principal among these, beyond the achievement of substantive understanding and the sheer enjoyment of...
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