LANG2005 Course Outline

This is the course outline for the module LANG2005: Ethnography for Language Learners, run by Dr Heidi Armbruster at the University of Southampton.

WEEK 1- Introduction: What is an ethnographic approach?

You will be introduced to some of the fundamental principles of ethnography: ethnography as cultural learning, data as always interpreted in context, the notions of ‘making strange’ and reflexivity.

WEEK 2 – Non-verbal communication and social space

These concepts are used to introduce you to methods of observation, together with some anthropological studies of how people make meaning out of their use of space.

WEEK 3 – Shared cultural knowledge or ‘Seeing the World’

This week you will be introduced to the idea of ethnography as looking beneath the ‘invisibility’ of everyday life in order to make explicit patterns and regularities of a social context. We will address the idea of cultural analysis as ‘thick description’ and look into notions of ‘classification’ and ‘meaning’.

WEEK 4 – Material Culture

In this session we look into the relationship between material objects and social relations. Exploring our relations to the material world offers a perspective through which we can understand cultural and social attitudes, values and ideologies.

WEEK 5 – Education and Socialisation

This unit introduces you to the idea of secondary socialisation as an ongoing learning process, and approaches this through focusing on educational environments.

WEEK 6 – Families and households

We shall explore the idea of a family as a cultural construct and think about the meanings given to social relationships.

WEEK 7 – Local Level Politics

The central role that small ‘p’ politics plays in the formation and maintenance of social relations is discussed. This includes the notion of exchange, status, reputation and ‘capitals’.


WEEK 8 – Gender Identities

We shall investigate the ways in which ‘gender’ is culturally constructed and routinely accomplished through everyday interactions. We will also address how gender intersects with ethnicity and class.

WEEK 9 – Participant Observation and ethnographic interviewing

This session introduces one of the key methods of doing ethnography. We shall explore the tension between being a participant and being an observer and the problems of locating informants and taking fieldnotes. We shall rehearse techniques for informal and formal interviewing.

EASTER BREAK – Conduct your ethnographic project

WEEK 10 – Data Analysis

WEEK 11 – Writing an Ethnographic Project

To help you prepare for your own ‘home ethnography’ we will consider what it means to ‘write up’ an ethnographic project

WEEK 12 – ‘Home ethnography’ presentations

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