24 May 2004
Some general thoughts on Fieldwork, and on specifics, in somewhat chaotic order:
One of the challenges: figuring out what questions to ask so that people will start talking, and tell you about what you want to know ...but also prompt you to want to know other things.Some other stuff, from JSTOR:
The core of the thesis will probably come from something somebody says --something unexpected that sheds NEW light on the inquiry, and raises an issue you migt not have thought of. One can't anticipate this moment, except by having faith that it will occur, and doing everything possible to give it chances to occur. That means being vigilant, being generally prepared to learn from everything seen and heard and read.
And it means a LOT of writing --seeing the passing scene and the events of the day as journal material. Write in English, in Spanish, in Chinese... but WRITE. And collect stuff, as images, as sounds, as fragments of paper... it all comes together as you sort through it after the fact.
You're going to be immersed, so make the immersion the object of study.
It's worth thinking about digital recording technologies: digital camera, digital sound-grabber. These are cheap enough now to be potentially very useful, but they aren't magical, AND you'd need to work out foolproof methods to BACK UP anything you collect. That may be more trouble than it's worth, and just making notes may be the most productive strategy, but do consider what the digital equipment might do for you.
I think it would be wise to start out with at least a general scheme for what you want to find out about, and define a set of basic questions to address that scheme. You can certainly change the focus as you go. But here's what I would do (and feel free to adopt or adapt as you want):Basic inquiry: How have women of different ages/generations experienced Education? What opportunities have they had and NOT had? How do they see today's young people as different from them, in terms of what they can do, and in terms of what they know and don't know?You'd like to collect anecdotes, and perhaps you can get people to WRITE their own stories, in skeleton form anyway.
How were male peers treated differently? What changed in Taiwanese society between their parents' (and siblings') experiences and their own?
Remembered teachers? What were they like?
What range of choices did their contemporaries have? What are women's perceptions/memories of their own range of choices at various points in their educational lives? Did parents/family exert specific pressures? What decided whether a person continued education or stopped at a certain point, and what paths were followed?
Choices are made under constraints; over time, the constraints change. NOW women have (presumably) wider choices and more latitude/freedom. How did that come about? What do mothers and grandmothers say about their daughters'/granddaughters' choices?
You'd like to collect the stories of people in their own words, covering a wide range of ages and other aspects of identity (class, wealth...)
In most education systems there are liminal points in schooling --when decisions get made (because of exams, switch from middle to high school, or to college...). Those may be the places to focus the inquiry, or it may be more on the circumstances of day-to-day school experience. What people say may define that.
You might ask people to reconstruct what happened to groups of school friends --collect some biographical details in anecdotal form on remembered groups.
Presidential Address: Myths of Asian Womanhood Susan Mann The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 59, No. 4. (Nov., 2000), pp. 835-862.
Student Mobilization in Taiwan: Civil Society and Its Discontents Teresa Wright Asian Survey, Vol. 39, No. 6. (Nov. - Dec., 1999), pp. 986-1008.
The Social and Political Impact of Education in Taiwan Sheldon Appleton Asian Survey, Vol. 16, No. 8. (Aug., 1976), pp. 703-720.
Taiwan Society at the Fin de Siecle (in Taiwan Today) Thomas B. Gold The China Quarterly, No. 148, Special Issue: Contemporary Taiwan. (Dec., 1996), pp. 1091-1114.
Teaching Morality in Taiwan Schools: The Message of the Textbooks Jeffrey E. Meyer The China Quarterly, No. 114. (Jun., 1988), pp. 267-284.
Youth Change in Taiwan, 1975 to 1985 Gerald A. McBeath Asian Survey, Vol. 26, No. 9. (Sep., 1986), pp. 1020-1036.
The Socialization of Children in China and on Taiwan: An Analysis of Elementary School Textbooks Roberta Martin The China Quarterly, No. 62. (Jun., 1975), pp. 242-262.
The Middle Class Family Model in Taiwan: Woman's Place is in the Home Norma Diamond Asian Survey, Vol. 13, No. 9. (Sep., 1973), pp. 853-872.
AUTHOR Wolf, Margery.
TITLE A thrice-told tale : feminism, postmodernism, and ethnographic responsibility
IMPRINT Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 1992.
CALL NO. GN345 .W65 1992.
AUTHOR Wolf, Margery
TITLE Women and the family in rural Taiwan.
IMPRINT Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1972.
CALL NO. HQ1740.5 .W65.
TITLE International handbook of curriculum research / edited by William F. Pinar.
IMPRINT Mahwah, N.J. : L. Erlbaum Associates, 2003.
CALL NO. LB2806.15 .I595 2003.
(chapter 34 on curriculum in Taiwan)
Ron mentioned ethnographic work one of his Chiapas students is doing, interviewing four women from one village and employing Bakhtin's notion of heteroglossia. Another example of a viable non-standard approach to ethnography (viz: bakhtin AND ethnography in Google), and perhaps a useful precedent
ERIC's Web site (newly reconfigured)
Survey in English