When immersing yourself into a new culture, the best way to learn about that culture is through participant observation. This resource focuses specifically on how to do this effectively. There are five main parts of the observation life-cycle: Observe, Describe, Hypothesize, Evaluate, and Apply. This resource is good for people who are planning to jump into the missionary field.
Missionaries Mike and Michelle had been in country for six months. At first everything was exciting! The food, the music, and the celebrations were all so interesting. They were welcomed enthusiastically by their teammates and the nationals alike. They know they are in the right place and are anxious for their language skills to catch up to the desire that they have to share the gospel with neighbors.
However, lately things have become so confusing. They can’t figure out the public transportation system, they don’t know what the social cues mean, and even the simple greetings they have learned have led to embarrassing offenses. How can Mike and Michelle make sense out of the confusion?
An ethnography is an in-depth, descriptive study of a culture, based on observation of and interaction with people. This may be done through reading academic research on the culture (literature review), or by asking questions about culture (interviews). But probably the best way to understand a new culture is through what is called “participant observation.” This is a technique used in anthropology and sociology, by which someone from outside the culture (a participant observer) studies the life of a group by sharing in its activities. It involves learning from people, finding out what makes them tick, expressing interest in the things that are important to them, and inviting them to teach you to see the world from their point of view. CONTINUE READING…