Twitter Speech

December 3, 2008

I really don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, or worse–someone who just doesn’t get what’s so great about Twitter. I get that there’s a lot great about it. Journalists use it to find and break stories. Organizers use it to coordinate actions. Election 2008 debate viewers used it  to shape national coverage. As reported by Chana Joffey-Walt in a playful story for Marketplace back when Twitter was new, we all use it to feed our bottomless appetites for feeling and being a certain kind of “in touch” with friends and other followees. 

But scanning lists and lists of tweets (mostly by reading over the shoulders of physically present friends), I can’t help but notice something–a thing about language. There’s this sociocultural theorist named Lev Vygotsky who comes to mind. His big idea–totally counter-intuitive in his day–was that a person’s individual psychology is always profoundly social. We don’t learn to connect interpersonally. We start out that way, as babies, and only eventually do we internalize concepts that we learn through social interaction so that we don’t have to do and say everything out loud. In other words, we develop a capacity for what Vygotsky calls “inner speech.” That’s the stream of communication that runs silently inside our heads. Vygotsky says it’s a key cognitive achievement, this shift from outer to inner speech.

I feel like at least some of what gets communicated through Twitter reads to me like inner speech. The mechanism of Twitter seems to draw what might otherwise have stayed inner back into the uttered world. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe that’s part of the fascination–to feel like we’ve got a line into the running thoughts, observations, commentaries, and discoveries of an eclectic crowd, fragments of discourse that might otherwise never crystalize in language. But I also wonder if there’s anything lost with this urge to push it out as soon as a thought springs to mind. In his 1934 book, Vygotsky defines thought as “a cloud shedding a shower of words.” Does it make a difference for that thought–its quality, nuance, depth–if it’s immediately let go?

 

 


June 19, 2008

A couple weeks ago, I worked with three Youth Radio reporters–Ankitha Bharadwaj, Nico Savidge, and Pendarvis Harshaw–and media scholar danah boyd to produce a panel on youth media for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s board retreat. Our mandate was to characterize how digital culture and technology are transforming the ways in which young people consume, use, and produce media.

In coming up with an approach to that sprawling topic, we couldn’t help but think about Youth Radio’s latest converged media initiative–a weekly national series with NPR’s Day to Day called, “What’s the New What?” Young reporters and commentators use every technology at their disposal to show how youth culture is changing and its ripple effects across our connected and divided worlds.  

So the question we posed for this gathering of broadcasters was: “What’s the new public in a digital media world?” We wanted to revisit some of the original principles of public broadcasting in its early days, and hear what young people have to say about where they’re finding–and how they’re forging–new kinds of “publics” online. There’s some really interesting research on networked publics that was hugely relevant here. Each of the young producers took a stab at answering this over-arching question, “What’s the new public?”…

But before focusing on production, they started with the question of changes in media consumption. They approached that topic by creating a composite picture of a day in their digital lives. 

Check out what they had to say here: yr-cpb-panel-2008-part-one1 (you have to look at the notes section to see what folks had to say)

 

 


Teach Youth Radio updates

May 8, 2008

Check out two new Teach Youth Radio curriculum resources that offer lesson ideas building on youth-produced stories (as mentioned this weekend on NPR!).

1. Guerra Everywhere

Youth Radio LA’s Evelyn Martinez explores how her mother’s memories of guerillas in El Salvador intersect with her own reality of night time gunshots, helicopters, and sirens at home in East Los Angeles.

“My mom tells me that she fled that war only to find herself in between feuding gangs and police shooting at each other in our Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights.”

During the 1980’s and 90’s, over one million Salvadorans fled the civil war in their country and settled in the United States. Over fifty percent of those who arrived in this country decided to make Los Angeles their home. Evelyn is a product of this history. Her story provides a powerful way for educators to explore several themes, including transnational identity, the relationship between storytelling and healing, the notion of history unfolding in the present, and the ripple effects of violence for individuals, communities, and nations.

Here’s the full curriculum resource for Guerra Everywhere.

2. The Wire

Youth Radio’s Orlando Campbell memorializes the hit HBO program, The Wire, which aired its final episode in spring of 2008. Are you a fan of The Wire? This News Break integrates the show’s themes into classroom work. But we’ve been careful to develop lesson ideas that do not require prior familiarity with the show. The commentator, Orlando Campbell, and other young folks at Youth Radio have convinced us that the topics explored in The Wire, as well as its distinctive storytelling style, will inspire profound discussion, and creative work among youth who do and do not watch the show, and for those who live within and outside cities like Baltimore, the show’s home base. This News Break has been co-developed with Orlando and other young people who’ve been watching The Wire season after season, and who feel deeply invested in the themes and characters the show explores.

While Orlando’s commentary highlights the show’s positive impact, other viewers have raised serious concerns. Some from within Baltimore say The Wire creates a sensationalized view of the violence in their own city and glorifies the drug trade, gang involvement, and corruption for youth around the country. What do your students think about how to tell stories that involve violence and crime without demonizing whole communities of people? Take up this and other provocative questions using this News Break as a point of departure.

Here’s the full curriculum resource for The Wire: Our Sopranos



Youth Media Reporter article extended abstract

January 14, 2008

Youth Media Reporter is coming out with a print issue, and I’ll be contributing a chapter called, Jumping for Joy, Wracking our Brains, Searching our Souls: Youth Media and its Digital Contradictions. Below are the first six paragraphs. I’ll update here when the full version is out.

In the old days of a few years ago, youth media organizations were among the sole gatekeepers connecting young people to production tools, distribution outlets, and mass audiences. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, teen producers can pick up ten-dollar digital cameras at the local corner store or use their cell phones to upload clips for free to massively trafficked websites online. It’s never been easier for young people to contribute to the endless flow of content circulating among media makers, users, and audiences—categories that are themselves rapidly losing clear distinctions.

These developments have brought about a contradictory moment in the youth media movement marked by a mix of exuberance and angst. The excitement stems from the proliferation of cheap equipment, user-generated outlets, and growing public appetite for youth-made content. These innovations are cause for celebration for young producers and their adult mentors in youth media organizations around the country. One of our main goals is to tear down obstacles blocking young people from participating as producers in personal expression and public discourse. Our jobs just got a whole lot easier.

Or have they? If young people today can find their own affordable tools and distribution outlets, and if the current aesthetic seems to favor raw production values over highly polished pieces, we’ve got to ask ourselves—what’s the point of what we do? Hence the angst.

Compounding that angsty feeling is an education system obsessed with standardized measurement; a re-regulated mainstream media (Klinenberg, 2007); disparities in digital participation that map to class, race, geography, and family educational background (DeBell & Chapman, 2006); and significant obstacles that can prevent young producers from converting media savvy and even momentary notoriety into concrete opportunities in education or living wage employment. While the free access, feedback loops, and community ratings systems that mark so many social media sites offer amazing opportunities for young people to post and share their stories, lots of good stuff on these sites gets buried, as it needs to compete with the sensational, the silly, and the not always transparently sponsored.

In this essay, I draw insight from a single organization, Youth Radio, where I serve as Senior Producer and Research Director, against the backdrop of research I’ve carried out over ten years, in the spirit of a new mandate: to sharpen our understanding of how our field’s “signature pedagogies” (Faber, 2007) can work in tandem with emerging technologies and media innovations to better serve young people. Youth media organizations remain crucial for a number of reasons, including:

• They organize youth-adult collaboration linking young people to networks of opportunity for advanced skill-building, policy impact, jobs and higher education. I discuss this function as a property of collegial pedagogy.
• They provide a platform for collective activity that builds and broadcasts a critical mass of youth voices strategically reaching a range of audiences. This function leverages the youth media field’s access to multiple outlets.
• They engage young people who are otherwise marginalized from digital privilege—those on the wrong side of what Henry Jenkins (2006) calls media literacy’s “participation gap.” This function enables young people to exercise applied agency and build citizenship in our connected, divided world.

To be continued…


Ethnographic Media Revisited

September 7, 2007

I thought I’d go ahead and post an updated version of my syllabus for the course I’m teaching on ethnographic methods at UC Berkeley’s Grad School of Education–this one includes some opening thoughts, the semester’s assignments, and some new texts based on feedback so far (including some offered here–so thank you!). Already in our first discussion, we touched on some potentially provocative ways to integrate youth media production into “data collection” within participatory action research projects. One of the weeks I’m most looking forward to is when my Youth Radio colleague Patrick Johnson will come talk with students about ethnographic categories applied to “urban youth” in popular culture and media. Here’s the latest:

Course Description

Ethnography asks big questions. How do people create identities, intimacies and antagonisms? How do we celebrate and punish, forget and remember, dwell and migrate, labor and exchange? How do we learn, classify, and label? What stories do we tell?

To pursue big questions like these, ethnographers make much of small situations—a meal, a furtive text message exchange, a pattern of gaze aversion during circle time by one student in a second grade classroom…. The challenge is often to find what’s significant in the apparently unremarkable, to discover cultural organization in the messiness of everyday life, and to reveal the contradictions that social order hides.

In this course, we will explore the theoretical underpinnings, uses, and abuses of qualitative research methods, with emphasis on participant observation, interview, and ethnography of communication. Over the course of the semester, you will: frame a research question; identify and move through study sites; carry out field work; analyze and theorize data, and “write up” your research story. Building technique—actually doing fieldwork—is only one intention for the course. The other is for us to conceptualize and critique various methodological traditions, by examining their shifting ethics, politics, epistemologies, and social impacts.

This work requires reflexivity on our part, and so the semester’s readings begin at a moment of heightened reflexivity in anthropology itself—with a series of essays where ethnographers started worrying a lot about how they were constructing, not just reporting, partial truths in their texts, how they were complicit characters, not distant narrators, in their own cultural scenes. It’s perhaps a weird place to begin, in the recent past rather than with ethnography’s origins, but my hope is that starting with reflexivity will keep us in that state of mind throughout the semester and beyond.

Responsibilities

Reading Presentation/Facilitation: Twice during the semester, I will ask you to work in pairs to present one week’s worth of readings and facilitate discussion about those texts. Deploy your pedagogical know-how to engage us! You might use small group activities, role play, free writing, media clips, or any other strategies you can think of to deepen our understanding of the texts as they relate to our individual and shared work as qualitative researchers.

The Study: A major focus of the class will be to carry out a small-scale qualitative research study. Toward that end, at regular intervals over the course of the semester, you will turn in:

Topic statement: What do you know and not know about a topic in education that sparks your intellectual passion? Why is this topic important and for whom? What stake do you personally have in this topic? In what way does it lend itself to qualitative study? DUE: Week 2
Problem statement: Present your topic as a problem (to be explained), offering a conceptual framework (to be explained) and identifying three possible research questions. Be sure to consider how both you and your study “subjects” are agents in your research. DUE: Week 4
Sites statement: Describe two possible multi-sited “geographies” (to be explained) for exploring your problem and pursuing your questions. DUE: Week 6
Fieldwork and analysis statement: Outline your study design, specifying how you will use participant observation and interviews in your research. Include one interview protocol. Articulate your “decision rules” (to be explained) and plans for analysis. DUE: Week 8
Field documents: Three sets of fieldnotes and one interview transcript. DUE: Weeks 5, 7, 12 (fieldnotes) & Week 11 (interview transcript)
Conceptual memo: Draw from your data to begin forming a preliminary argument. DUE: Week 13
Final work in progress paper: Compilation of all of the above (rest assured, we’ll agree on clear guidelines and criteria for evaluation well before the paper is due, and we will definitely consider this a preliminary, exploratory, emerging text to be further developed through semester two). DUE: Week 15

Attendance and Participation: Preparedness, willingness to contribute, willingness to struggle with the ideas and materials, active listening, and constructive attitude. For the course to function as a seminar, it is of course required that everyone read all the assigned texts and arrive to class ready to dig in.

Assessment: I see evaluation as an important opportunity for communication. I’ll make sure there’s plenty of opportunity before any assignment is due to clarify the criteria I will use to evaluate each of the course requirements. Please feel free to raise questions during class if the evaluation procedures seem unclear at any point, either in the full group, or with me individually. Late assignments will be accepted only if prior arrangements have been made with me.

Discussion Facilitations: 15%
Research Statements, Records, and Memo: 45%
Final Paper: 15%
Attendance and Participation: 25%

Sequence of Topics and Texts

Week 1:

Arrival Scenes: What Are We Getting Ourselves Into?

Introductions
Syllabus Review
Peer-to-Peer Interview

Week 2:

Spinning at the Mirror: Reflexivity and Ethnographic “Turns”

Gupta, A. & Ferguson, J. 1997. Anthropological locations: Boundaries and grounds of a field science. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1-46.

Tedlock, D. & Mannheim, B. 1995. The dialogic emergence of culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1-32.

Ferguson, A. 2001. “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Field Trip.” Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1-27.

Limon, J. 1994. “The Native Dances.” Dancing with the Devil: Society and cultural poetics in Mexican American South Texas. 141-167.

Foley, D. 2002. Critical Ethnography: The Reflexive Turn. International
Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(4), 469-490.

DUE: Topic Statement (two page max)

Week 3:

The Never-Ending Conversation: Writing Subjects

Clifford, J. & Marcus, G. 1986. Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1-26.

Behar, R. & Gordon, D. 1995. Women writing culture. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1-29, 49-64.

Visweswaran, K. 1994. Fictions in feminist ethnography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1-39.

Steedman, C. 1987. “Death of a Good Woman,” “Stories,” and “The Weaver’s Daughter.” Landscape for a Good Woman. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 1-47.

Week 4:

Discovering What We Don’t Know: Getting Started

Berg, Bruce. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. 5th edition. Pearson. 1-52.

Maxwell, Joseph. Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. 33-78.

Athaneses, S. and Heath, S. B. 1995. Ethnography in the study of the teaching and learning of English. Research in the Teaching of English. 29(3), 263-286.

Becker, H. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research
While You’re Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 10-66.

DUE: Problem Statement (two page max)

Week 5:

“What Doing Ethnography Is”…and What it’s For?

Geertz, C. 1973. Thick Description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books. 3-30.

Andrade, J. A. 2006. Utilizing carino in the development of research methodologies. In J. Kinchelo (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education (451-460). Greenwood Press.

Glesne, C. & Peshkin, A. 1992. Being There: Developing Understanding through Participant Observation. Becoming Qualitative Researchers. New York: Longman.

Eisenhart, Margaret. 2001. “Educational Ethnography Past, Present, and Future: Ideas to Think With” Educational Researcher. Vol. 30, no. 8. pp. 16-27.

DUE: Fieldnotes #1

Week 6:

In and Out of Sites

Pratt, M. L. Linguistic Utopias. In N. Fabb, D. Attridge, A. Durant, and C. McCabe (Eds) The Linguistics of Writing (48-66). New York: Methuen.

Dimitriadis, G. & Weis, L. 2006. Multisited ethnographic approaches in urban education today. In J. Kinchelo (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education (470-481). Greenwood Press.

Marcus, G. 1998. Ethnography Through Thick and Thin. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 57-78.

Hymes, D. 1962. The ethnography of speaking. In T. Gladwin & W. Sturtevant (Eds.), Anthropology and Human Behavior. Anthropological Society of Washington.

PICK ONE:

Urciuoli, B. 1991. The political topography of Spanish and English: The view from a New York Puerto Rican neighborhood. American Ethnologist, 18(2), 295-310.

Gutierrez, K., Rymes, B., and Larson, J. 1995. Script, counterscript, and underlife in the classroom: James Brown versus Brown v. Board of Education. Harvard Educational Review. 65 (3), 445-471.

Lee, C. 2006. ‘Every good-bye ain’t gone’: Analyzing the cultural underpinnings of classroom talk. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 19(3), 305-327.

DUE: Sites Statement (two page max)

Week 7:

Perpetual Writing: Field Notes

Emerson, R., Fretz, R. & Shaw, L. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1-65.

Cintron, R. 1997. Angels’ Town: Chero ways, gang life, and rhetorics of everyday life. Boston: Beacon Press. Chapter 1 (Starting Places, 1-14) and Chapter 4 (A Boy and His Wall, 98-129).

Valenzuela, A. 1999. Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. Albany: SUNY Press. 61-113, 273-289.

Sanjek, R. (Ed.). 1990. “A Vocabulary for Fieldnotes” and “The Secret Life of Fieldnotes”. In Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca: Cornell.

DUE: Fieldnotes #2

Week 8:

Beyond Qualitative Righteousness: Ethics Part 1

Scheper-Hughes, N. 2000. Ire in Ireland. Ethnography 1(1), 117-140.

Starn, O. 1986. Engineering internment: Anthropologists and the war relocation authority. American Ethnologist, 13(4), 700-720.

Kelley, R. 1998. Introduction. Yo Mama’s disFUNKtional! Fighting the culture wars in urban America. Boston: Beacon Press. 1-13.

Caplan, P. 2003. Ethics of Anthropology: Debates and Dilemmas. New York: Routledge. 133-154.

Fine, Gary Alan. Ten Lies of Ethnography: Moral Dilemmas of Field Research Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol. 22, No. 3. October 1993. 267-294.

DUE: Fieldwork and Analysis Statement (three page max, including interview protocol)

Week 9:

Human Subjects and IRB: Ethics Part II

Timmermans, Stefan. 1995. Cui Bono? Institutional Review Board Ethics and Ethnographic Research. Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Volume 19, p. 153-173.

Wax, M. 1980. Paradoxes of ‘Consent’ to the practice of fieldwork. Social Problems. Volume 27, No. 3. February. 272-283.

Cohen, P. February 28, 2007. As Ethics Panels Expand, No Research Field Is Exempt. New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2007 at: http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F30613FD345A0C7B8EDDAB0894DF404482.

AAA code of ethics: http://www.aaanet.org/committees/ethics/ethicscode.pdf.

Visit and read over UCB’s Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects website: http://cphs.berkeley.edu:7006/.

GUEST: Representative from UCB IRB

ON YOUR OWN: Independent fieldwork, human subjects proposal prep

Week 10:

Always Asking: Learning How to Listen

Briggs, C. 1986. Learning How to Ask. The Role of the Interview in Social Science Research. Cambridge University Press. 1-60.

McDermott, R. 1995. On the necessity of collusion in conversation. In D. Tedlock & B. Mannheim (Eds.), Dialogic Emergence of Culture (218-236). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Hill, J. & Zepeda, O. 1992. Mrs. Patricio’s trouble: The distribution of responsibility in an account of personal experience. In J. Hill & J. Irvine (Eds.) Responsibility and evidence in oral discourse (197-225). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Seidman, Irving. 1998. Chapters Six, Seven and Eight. Interviewing as Qualitative Research. New York: Teachers College Press.

Weiss, Robert S. 1994. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. New York: Free Press. 1-33, 61-83.

ON YOUR OWN: Independent fieldwork, revision of interview protocol

Week 11:

Observant Participation

Fine, M. & Torres, M. 2006. Researching and resisting: Democratic policy research by and for youth. In S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, & J. Cammarota (Eds.), Beyond resistance: Youth activism and community change (269-286). New York: Routledge.

Dressman, M. 2006. Teacher, teach thyself. Ethnography 7(3), 329-356.

Morrell, E. 2006. Youth-initiated research as a tool for advocacy and change in urban schools. In S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, & J. Cammarota (Eds.), Beyond resistance: Youth activism and community change (111-128). New York: Routledge.

Tupuola, A. 2006. Participatory research, culture and youth identities: An exploration of indigenous, cross-cultural and trans-national methods. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(2). 291-316. Retrieved August 16, 2007 from http://www.colorado.edu/journals/cye.

Clips from School Colors, a documentary about race, tracking, discipline and achievement at Berkeley High

DUE: Interview transcript

Week 12:

Tackling the Towering Pile: Analysis

LeCompte, M. & Preissle, J. 2003. Ethnography and qualitative design in educational research. San Diego: Academic Press. 234-278.

Glesne, Corrine and Peshkin, Alan. 1992. Finding Your Story: Data Analysis. Becoming Qualitative Researchers. New York: Longman.

Miles, M. & Huberman. A. M. Drawing Valid Meaning from Qualitative Data: Toward a Shared Craft. Educational Researcher.

McDermott, R., Gospodinoff, K., Aron, J. 1978. Criteria for an ethnographically adequate description of activities and their context. Semiotica 24: 245-275.

Katz, Jack. 1997. On Ethnographic Warrants. Sociological Methods and Research, 25(4), 391- 423.

Ochs, E. 1979. Transcription as theory. In E. Ochs & B. Scheffelin (Eds). Developmental Pragmatics. Academic Press.

Valli, L. & Chambliss, M. 2007. Creating classroom cultures: One teacher, two lessons, and a high-stakes test. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 38(1), 57-75.

ON YOUR OWN: Discuss questions and preliminary analysis with research participants

DUE: Fieldnotes #3

Week 13:

Ethnographic Categories: Lads, Ear’oles, Hallway Hangers, Brothers, Troublemakers, Schoolboys…

Willis, P. 1977. Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs. New York: Columbia University Press. Excerpt.

MacLeod, J. 1995. Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low Income Neighborhood. Boulder: Westview Press. 25-60.

McDermott, R. & Varenne, H. (1998). Adam, Adam, Adam, and Adam: The cultural construction of a learning disability. In H. Varenne & R. McDermott (Eds.), Successful failure: The school America builds (25-44). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Lee, S. 2001. More than ‘model minorities’ or ‘delinquents’: A look at Hmong American high school students. Harvard Educational Review. 71(3), 505-527.

Clips from The Wire, Stoop Kids and Corner Kids

GUEST: Patrick Johnson, Youth Radio

DUE: Conceptual Memo

Week 14:

Just When You Thought You Had it Right… Analysis of Analysis

Wacquant, Loïc. 2002. “Scrutinizing the Street: Poverty, Morality, and the Pitfalls of Urban Ethnography.” American Journal of Sociology 107-6 (May): 1468-1532.

Anderson, E. 1990. Streetwise: Race, class, and change in an urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Newmann, K. 1999. No shame in my game: The working poor in the inner city. New York: Vintage Books.

Burawoy, M. 2003. “Revisits: An Outline of a Theory of Reflexive Ethnography.” American Sociological Review 68-5 (October): 645-679.

Fordham, S. & Ogbu, J. 1986. Black students’ school success: Coping with the “‘burden of ‘acting white.’” Urban Review. 18(3).

Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y., Giardina, M. 2006. Disciplining qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 19(6), 769-782.

DUE: Come to class prepared to present and discuss preliminary/emergent findings

Week 15:

Youthscapes

Okabe, Daisuke and Mizuko Ito. 2006. “Everyday Contexts of Camera Phone Use: Steps Toward Technosocial Ethnographic Frameworks.” In Joachim Höflich and Maren Hartmann Ed., Mobile Communication in Everyday Life. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Pascoe, C.J. 2007. What if a guy hits on you? Intersections of gender, sexuality, and age in fieldwork with adolescents. In A. Best (Ed.), Representing Youth: Methodological Issues in Critical Youth Studies. New York: New York University Press.

Maira, S. 2005. The intimate and the imperial: South Asian Muslim immigrant youth after 9/11. In S. Maira & E. Soep (Eds.) Youthscapes: The popular, the national, the global (64-81). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

boyd, d. (in press) “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked
al Life.” MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning, Identity Volume (ed.
David Buckingham).

Ethical Decision Making and Internet Research, retrieved on August 23, 2007 from: http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf.

DUE: Final Paper


Ethnographic Media

August 24, 2007

I’ve spent much of this week gearing up for a seminar I’ll be teaching at UC Berkeley’s Grad School of Ed on ethnography and qualitative methods. It’s got me thinking about the relationship between youth media production and academic research. I wrote an essay awhile back on this topic, but now that I’ll actually be teaching methods while still working as a youth media producer, the connections are getting clearer and more complicated.

When I began carrying out ethnographic research at youth media sites more than nine years ago, I knew I would learn a lot about learning from the teen producers who eventually–at Youth Radio–became my colleagues. I did not expect to learn as much, if not more, about something I thought I already understood: how to do ethnography. Youth media projects are not only worthy subjects to study if we want to understand all we can about literacy; they also contain compelling new models for research methods.

Here are the kinds of things young people do to produce a radio feature. Students identify topics, drawing on first-person experiences, engaging key social issues, and critiquing standard representations of marginalized communities. They explore relevant contextual considerations and debates. They conduct interviews and record naturally occurring scenes. They make decisions about framing, style, and content based on their project’s intended audience. They experiment with ways to tell their stories, often rejecting expected narrative formulas and introducing varied vernaculars and novel modes of expression drawn from youth culture and converged media. Through all of these practices, they collaborate with other teens, young mentors, and adults. They push through crises of purpose and confidence—not always achieving tidy resolution. Their stories air for audiences, and then they start again.

As I have observed and participated with young people through these various stages of story-making, an unanticipated parallel surfaced. Their practices looked a lot like new directions for socially relevant research.

So now I’m thinking I’ll invite some of my Youth Radio colleagues to the Cal class to share the newsroom’s research practices. And at the end of the semester, I’ll ask the UC Berkeley students to “pitch” their research topics as media stories to some Youth Radio newsroom reporters. Seems like that experience might encourage young scholars to think in new ways about how to get people interested in what they have to say.

For what it’s worth, here’s how I’m imagining my reading list for the course so far–still totally in progress. Any suggestions for texts on digital methods and ethnographies of digital youth culture would be most appreciated!

Week 1:

Spinning at the Mirror: Reflexivity and Ethnographic “Turns”

Foley, D. 2002. Critical Ethnography: The Reflexive Turn. International
Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 15(4), 469-490.

Tedlock, D. & Mannheim, B. 1995. The dialogic emergence of culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1-32.

Ferguson, A. 2001. “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Field Trip.” Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1-27.

Limon, J. 1994. “The Native Dances.” Dancing with the Devil: Society and cultural poetics in Mexican American South Texas. 141-167.

Week 2:

The Never-Ending Conversation: Writing Subjects

Clifford, J. & Marcus, G. 1986. Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press. Introduction.

Behar, R. & Gordon, D. 1995. Women writing culture. Berkeley: University of California Press. Excerpts.

Visweswaran, K. 1994. Fictions in feminist ethnography. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Steedman, C. 1987. “Death of a Good Woman,” “Stories,” and “The Weaver’s Daughter.” Landscape for a Good Woman. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 1-47.

Week 3:

Discovering What We Don’t Know: Getting Started

Berg, Bruce. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. 5th edition. Pearson. Chapters 1 & 2.

Maxwell, Joseph. Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach. Chapters 1-3.

Athaneses, S. and Heath, S. B. 1995. Ethnography in the study of the teaching and learning of English. Research in the Teaching of English. 29(3), 263-286.

Becker, H. 1998. Tricks of the Trade: How to Think About Your Research
While You’re Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Excerpts.

Week 4:

“What Doing Ethnography Is”…and What it’s For

Geertz, C. 1973. Thick Description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Glesne, C. & Peshkin, A. 1992. Being There: Developing Understanding through Participant Observation. Becoming Qualitative Researchers. New York: Longman.

Andrade, J. A. 2006. Utilizing carino in the development of research methodologies. In J. Kinchelo (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education (451-460). Greenwood Press.

Eisenhart, Margaret. 2001. “Educational Ethnography Past, Present, and Future: Ideas to Think With” Educational Researcher. Vol. 30, no. 8. pp. 16-27.

Week 5:

Perpetual Writing: Field Notes

Emerson, R., Fretz, R. & Shaw, L. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Excerpt.

Sanjek, R. (Ed.). 1990. “A Vocabulary for Fieldnotes” and “The Secret Life of Fieldnotes”. In Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca: Cornell.

Cintron, R. 1997. Angels’ Town: Chero ways, gang life, and rhetorics of everyday life. Boston: Beacon Press. Chapter 1 (Starting Places) and Chapter 4 (A Boy and His Wall).

Valenzuela, A. 1999. Subtractive schooling: U.S.-Mexican youth and the politics of caring. Albany: SUNY Press. Appendix: Research Methodology.

Week 6:

Beyond Qualitative Righteousness: Ethics Part 1

Scheper-Hughes, N. 2000. Ire in Ireland. Ethnography 1(1), 117-140.

Starn, O. 1986. Engineering internment: Anthropologists and the war relocation authority. American Ethnologist, 13(4), 700-720.

Kelley, R. 1998. Introduction. Yo Mama’s disFUNKtional! Fighting the culture wars in urban America. Boston: Beacon Press. 1-13.

Fine, Gary Alan. Ten Lies of Ethnography: Moral Dilemmas of Field Research Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Vol. 22, No. 3. October 1993. 267-294.

Caplan, P. 2003. Ethics of Anthropology: Debates and Dilemmas. New York: Routledge. Excerpts.

Week 7:

In and Out of Sites

Pratt, M. L. Linguistic Utopias. In N. Fabb, D. Attridge, A. Durant, and C. McCabe (Eds) The Linguistics of Writing (48-66). New York: Methuen.

Dimitriadis, G. & Weis, L. 2006. Multisited ethnographic approaches in urban education today. In J. Kinchelo (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Urban Education (470-481). Greenwood Press.

Marcus, G. 1998. Ethnography Through Thick and Thin. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 1.

Hymes, D. 1962. The ethnography of speaking. In T. Gladwin & W. Sturtevant (Eds.), Anthropology and Human Behavior. Anthropological Society of Washington.

Urciuoli, B. 1991. The political topography of Spanish and English: The view from a New York Puerto Rican neighborhood. American Ethnologist, 18(2), 295-310.

Week 8:

Human Subjects and IRB: Ethics Part II

Timmermans, Stefan. 1995. Cui Bono? Institutional Review Board Ethics and Ethnographic Research. Studies in Symbolic Interaction. Volume 19, p. 153-173.

Wax, M. 1980. Paradoxes of ‘Consent’ to the practice of fieldwork. Social Problems. Volume 27, No. 3. February. 272-283.

Cohen, P. February 28, 2007. As Ethics Panels Expand, No Research Field Is Exempt. New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2007 at: http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F30613FD345A0C7B8EDDAB0894DF404482.

AAA code of ethics: http://www.aaanet.org/committees/ethics/ethicscode.pdf.

Visit and read over UCB’s Committee on the Protection of Human Subjects website: http://cphs.berkeley.edu:7006/.

Week 9:

Always Asking: Learning How to Listen

Briggs, C. 1986. Learning How to Ask. The Role of the Interview in Social Science Research. Cambridge University Press.

McDermott, R. 1995. On the necessity of collusion in conversation. In D. Tedlock & B. Mannheim (Eds.), Dialogic Emergence of Culture (218-236). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Hill, J. & Zepeda, O. 1992. Mrs. Patricio’s trouble: The distribution of responsibility in an account of personal experience. In J. Hill & J. Irvine (Eds.) Responsibility and evidence in oral discourse (197-225). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Weiss, Robert S. 1994. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative
Interview Studies. New York: Free Press. Excerpt.

Seidman, Irving. 1998. Chapters Six, Seven and Eight. Interviewing as Qualitative Research. New York: Teachers College Press.

Week 10:

Observant Participation

Fine, M. & Torres, M. 2006. Researching and resisting: Democratic policy research by and for youth. In S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, & J. Cammarota (Eds.), Beyond resistance: Youth activism and community change (269-286). New York: Routledge.

Dressman, M. 2006. Teacher, teach thyself. Ethnography 7(3), 329-356.

Morrell, E. 2006. Youth-initiated research as a tool for advocacy and change in urban schools. In S. Ginwright, P. Noguera, & J. Cammarota (Eds.), Beyond resistance: Youth activism and community change (111-128). New York: Routledge.

Tupuola, A. 2006. Participatory research, culture and youth identities: An exploration of indigenous, cross-cultural and trans-national methods. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(2). 291-316. Retrieved August 16, 2007 from http://www.colorado.edu/journals/cye.

Week 11:

Ethnographic Categories: Lads, Ear’oles, Hallway Hangers, Brothers, Troublemakers, Schoolboys…

Willis, P. 1977. Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs. New York: Columbia University Press. Excerpt.

MacLeod, J. 1995. Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low Income Neighborhood. Boulder: Westview Press. 3-24, 239-267.

McDermott, R. & Varenne, H. (1998). Adam, Adam, Adam, and Adam: The cultural construction of a learning disability. In H. Varenne & R. McDermott (Eds.), Successful failure: The school America builds (25-44). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Clips from The Wire, Stoop Kids and Corner Kids

Week 12:

Tackling the Towering Pile: Analysis

Glesne, Corrine and Peshkin, Alan. 1992. Finding Your Story: Data Analysis. Becoming Qualitative Researchers. New York: Longman.

Miles, M. & Huberman. A. M. Drawing Valid Meaning from Qualitative Data: Toward a Shared Craft. Educational Researcher.

McDermott, R., Gospodinoff, K., Aron, J. 1978. Criteria for an ethnographically adequate description of activities and their context. Semiotica 24: 245-275.

Katz, Jack. 1997. On Ethnographic Warrants. Sociological Methods and Research, 25(4), 391- 423.

Ochs, E. 1979. Transcription as theory. In E. Ochs & B. Scheffelin (Eds). Developmental Pragmatics. Academic Press.

Week 13:

Just When You Thought You Had it Right… Analysis of Analysis

Wacquant, Loïc. 2002. “Scrutinizing the Street: Poverty, Morality, and the Pitfalls of Urban Ethnography.” American Journal of Sociology 107-6 (May): 1468-1532.

Anderson, E. 1990. Streetwise: Race, class, and change in an urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Newmann, K. 1999. No shame in my game: The working poor in the inner city. New York: Vintage Books.

Burawoy, M. 2003. “Revisits: An Outline of a Theory of Reflexive Ethnography.” American Sociological Review 68-5 (October): 645-679.

Week 14:

Digital Questions/Digital Methods

Okabe, Daisuke and Mizuko Ito. 2006. “Everyday Contexts of Camera Phone Use: Steps Toward Technosocial Ethnographic Frameworks.” In Joachim Höflich and Maren Hartmann Ed., Mobile Communication in Everyday Life. Berlin: Frank & Timme.

Pascoe, C.J. 2007. What if a guy hits on you? Intersections of gender, sexuality, and age in fieldwork with adolescents. In A. Best (Ed.), Representing Youth: Methodological Issues in Critical Youth Studies. New York: New York University Press.

Ethical Decision Making and Internet Research, retrieved on August 23, 2007 from: http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics.pdf.


Youth Radio on Henry Jenkins’ Acafan

August 18, 2007

When my Youth Radio colleague Ayesha Walker and I went to the National Media Education Conference in St. Louis awhile back, we chit chatted with Henry Jenkins about some of the big ideas he’s been rolling out in his recent digital media writing. Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve been following and citing his work for years, so I stalked him on his way out of the dining room, dragging Ayesha behind me.

The good news for us was, at the end of our conversation, he said he’d like to publish an interview with Youth Radio on his Acafan site. Here are some of the questions he sent our way.

How would you define the mission of Youth Radio? What are you trying to accomplish?

What roles do youth play in your production process? What roles do adults play?

What do you see as the continued value of broadcast radio as a medium in an era of blogs and podcasts?

I noticed that you are making your broadcast content available via iTunes. How did that come about and how successful do you think this approach has been at broadening who listens to youth radio?

What kinds of skills and knowledge are young people acquiring through their involvement with the production of youth radio?

What relationship does your group have with other youth radio producers around the world?

When we met in Saint Louis, we had an interesting exchange about the value of individual authorship as opposed to collective intelligence. I wondered if you might be willing to share your perspective on this topic here.

There’s been a general trend suggesting that contemporary youth are less likely than previous generations to seek out information from traditional news channels. What insights do you have about why young people might be turned off by news?

There’s been a general trend suggesting that contemporary youth are less likely than previous generations to seek out information from traditional news channels. What insights do you have about why young people might be turned off by news?

For our answers, check out Confessions of an Acafan sometime next week. Here’s an excerpt from the answer Pendarvis (Dru) Harshaw, Youth Radio reporter and commentator, supplied for Henry’s last question:

The difference between Youth Radio and a MySpace or a YouTube or any new site which allows a person to produce themselves is … media literacy. Youth Radio does what MySpace would hate us to do: Teach us why sites like MySpace work—the advertisements, the conglomerates, and how all of this relates to them getting our money. Instead of blindly posting our videos and pictures on a website owned by a round table of old farts, Youth Radio teaches us the process of broadcasting, the mechanics of production, and the influence of media—not from the mouth of an old fart, but from the mouths of young people who have also gone through this program, young people who are literate in the power of media, and the power we have in producing the media.

If you want to hear more from Dru, here’s a story called N-Bomb he recently did for NPR.