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'We must put ourselves in the position of the subject who tries to find his way in this world, and we must remember, first of all, that the environment by which he is influenced and to which he adapts himself is his world, not the objective world of science.'

W.I. Thomas
and
F. Znaniecki

Qualitative Sociology Review
2007
Volume III Issue 3


Author-Supplied Abstracts & Keywords


Sabine Chalvon-Demersay
     École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France
     CEMS / Institut Marcel Mauss

'Des personnages de si près tenus', TV Fiction and Moral Consensus

How can we understand the adaptations of literary classics made for French television? We simultaneously analyzed the works and the context in which they were produced in order to relate the moral configurations that emerge in the stories to activities carried out by identifiable members of the production team, in specific, empirically observable circumstances. This empirical approach to the constitution of the moral panorama in which characters evolve rejects the idea of the pure autonomy of ideological contents, suggesting instead a study of the way normative demands and professional ethics are combined in practice, thus combining a sociology of characters and a sociology of professionals and showing how professional priorities influence production choices. This detaches the moral question from the philosophical horizon it is associated with in order to make it an object of empirial study. Adopting this perspective produces unexpected findings. Observation shows that the moral landscape in which characters are located is neither stable, autonomous, transparent, or consensual. It is instead caught up in material logics, constrained by temporal dynamics, and dependent on professional coordination. It is traversed by tensions between professional logics, and logics of regulation.

Keywords:
Fiction; Television; Literary adaptations; Moral sociology; Television production ethnography; Characters and moral life.
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Basile Zimmermann
     University of Geneva, Switzerland

Tracing the Action of Technical Objects in an Ethnography: Vinyls in Beijing

To do ethnography of artistic work implies dealing with the agency of technical objects. The aim of this paper is to share a few ideas on how to tackle the one of vinyls in the particular activity that is the mix of a disc jockey. To do so, I first provide a general picture of the work of Xiao Deng, a Chinese disc jockey I observed in Beijing between 2003 and 2004. Then I present three observations of specific events that occured during that period which, I believe, bring into light not only some specificities of the agency of the technical object 'vinyl' but also useful information about how one can take into account the agency of objects when doing ethnography.

Keywords:
Technical objects; Technology; Agency; Ethnography; Music; Vinyls; Disc Jockey; China; Beijing.
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Marie Buscatto
     University of Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, France

Contributions of Ethnography to Gendered Sociology: the French Jazz World

In the last few years a number of studies have explored the epistemological uses of the ethnographer's gender in sociological research and the effects of gender on research results. These studies aim either to analyze how ethnographers can use their 'gender' to open up observational possibilities, or to analyze observations made while maintaining as much control as possible over the conditions of their sociological interpretation. But relatively few papers discuss using ethnography to study gendered social relations. This article applies that approach to the observations made in my field study of the 'world' of French jazz. We present here three of the main ways that the epistemological enrichment offered by ethnography may in turn enrich analysis of gender relations: access to 'invisible' practices, analysis in terms of 'the arrangement between the sexes', the possibility of generalization.

Keywords:
Ethnography; Gender; Art; Jazz; Music; Work; Ethnography; Epistemology.
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Emmanuel Grimaud
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France

The Film in Hand. Modes of Coordination and Assisted Virtuosity in the Bombay Film Studios

Less has been said about the hand movements of the film makers, their cultural dimension and the place of this 'corporate language' in the film making process, probably because this object is difficult to capture even with a diary. Gestures go too fast to be sketched on the spot and often faster than the perception of the ethnographer. Some of these gestures are made to stabilize the frame or simulate the camera movement but lots of them are difficult to classify and don't fall into this category, like the ones which are produced to accompany the actors' action or to invite him to perform a certain action and which have more to do with a mode of demonstration involving the entire body. This article, mostly based on videos of Bombay film makers at work, tries to identify the specificity of these gestures in terms of communication or interaction and their potential of coordination in the film set dynamics.

Keywords:
Gesture; Demonstration; Film set; Shooting; Bombay; Ethno(video)graphy.
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Celia Bense Ferreira Alves
     University of Paris 8, France

Staging the Social Drama of Work: Ethnography of a Theater Company as a Means of Analyzing Theater Activity

This paper shows how conducting the ethnographic study of a theater hall and company can help define theater activity. Once the aesthetic of the social organization is set apart from the proper division of labor, theater appears as a collective activity which requires the cooperation of eight groups playing different social roles. The cooperation modes rest on a meshing of direct or indirect services for the actors who carry out the core task of performing. This specific organization of work around a central group is what makes the activity artistic. Simultaneously, the service relation offers the possibility for some categories to bring their relationship with actors closer to a state of symmetry and sometimes reverse asymmetry. As a status enhancing opportunity, service relationship for actors also directly or indirectly provide the grounds for participant commitment and thus guarantee long-lasting operation for the theatrical organization.

Keywords:
Theater ethnography; Collective activity; Division of labor; Tasks; Social roles; Service relationship; Commitment.
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Marie-Pierre Gibert
    University of Southampton, United Kingdom

The intricacies of Being Israeli and Yemenite. An Ethnographic Study of Yemenite 'Ethnic' Dance Companies in Israel

Focusing on the work of Yemenite 'ethnic' dance companies in Israel, this article aims to understand how issues such as a shift in collective representations come to be invested into dance practices. In other words, it discusses how artistic creation and identity reconfigurations happen to associate in a dance form, and how an ethnographic study of dance practices and their contexts of performance may be a valuable way of accessing the dynamics of self-positioning of a group within the surrounding society. Linking together 'classical' ethnography, formal analysis of dance products presented to the audience, and socio-political contextualisation, the present analysis shows that the articulation of two apparently contradictory ways of building these companies’ repertoire allows Yemenite dancers, choreographers, and also internal audience, to assume in one single dance form a sense of 'being Yemenite' whilst not giving up the national dimension of their Israeli identity.

Keywords:
Asymmetric ethnicity; Artistic creation; Cultural representation; Dance Company; Dance; Politics; Ethnography.
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Erin O'Connor
     New School for Social Research, New York, USA

The Centripetal Force of Expression: Drawing Embodied Histories into Glassblowing

Getting at the tacit understandings of an artful practice is critical in coming to understand the processes of creativity. To achieve this, the researcher, specifically the ethnographer, must place herself in the position of the maker, that is she must herself, make and create. This article provides an account of arriving at the methodological imperative of in situ ethnographic research through actual ethnographic research on the relation of maker and material. From an in situ position, it theorizes the modalities of expression in practice, from problem-solving, to personal style, to the intentional drawing in of embodied histories in practice. This incorporation of varying embodied histories into a current practice is then explored as the possibility for affecting what is recognized in the field as 'new' or 'innovative'. We will see, however, that is affect is grounded more in the corporeal revealing of unexpected aspects of the material worked up.

Keywords:
Embodiment; Expression; Practical knowledge; Art; Glassblowing; Epistemology; Ethnography; Phenomenology; Materiality; Innovation.
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