Ethnography of Fiddle/ Local Manual of Style

  • Use of video and "original" analysis of video clips is permissible

n this field, in accordance with the Ethnography of Fiddle Local Manual of Style, videographers, amateur or professional, are considered to be documentarians and thus secondary sources just as Allan Lomax or other professionally trained ethnomusicologists. Of course, their commentary may merge into authentic primary source to the extent they lack what has been called distanciation by literary critics or would be called professional distance by anthropologists or other trained professional observers. Thus, use of these sources might be controversial in projects such as our sister project Wikipedia, but Wikiversity, with which WikiBooks is closely affiliated, explicitly rejects the Wipedia emphasis on secondary sources and thus the debate is moot. Please note that although this content is open source, it might be subject to controversy or deletion if transferred to Wikipedia.

    • Relevant policy on Original Research

"In practice, however, Wikibooks takes a permissive stance by allowing specific types of contributions that, strictly speaking, could be considered original research. This practice allows for the fact that Wikibooks might be the first place that certain knowledge is put into print. Moreover, authors may add content based on repeatable information from their personal experiences or from common knowledge they have "off the top of their heads." When adding unsourced information to Wikibooks, though, remember to avoid content that isn't well supported in subject literature, or that other contributors might reasonably disagree with unless you are prepared to defend."

  • Respect for indigenous traditions is appropriate

This is not Wikipedia. Although we adhere to nuetral point of view, a slavish adherence is not appropriate. This WikiBook follows professional standards of the field of ethnography and ethnomusicology which is consistent with Wikiversity's standard. WikiBooks strive for textbook quality and thus embrace academic standards; this means that "nuetrality" as practiced here rejects points of view such as psuedoscience or Eurocentric chauvinism which suggests that the monoculture of Western Civilization as taught in the 1950's is superior and the only culture of interest. That is taken for granted in the field of Ethnomusicology and Ethnography except perhaps for fringe elements who are by definition not "nuetral" even if, perhaps, in some ways they might be "more correct". This book is NPOV within the scope of ethnographic studies, and parties who do not concur might wish to develope a new book expressing dissent from mainstream ethnic studies, which would probably be acceptable within WikiBooks but would not be acceptable for this book, which is not intended as a radical critique of mainstream ethnomusicological standards.

Ethics: Reprint from Ethnography articleEdit


Gary Alan Fine argues that the nature of ethnographic inquiry demands that researchers deviate from formal and idealistic rules or ethics that have come to be widely accepted in qualitative and quantitative approaches in research. Many of these ethical assumptions are rooted in positivist and post-positivist epistemology|epistemologies that have adapted over time, but nonetheless are apparent and must be accounted for in all research paradigms. These ethical dilemmas are evident throughout the entire process of conducting ethnographies, including the design, implementation, and reporting of an ethnographic study. Essentially, Fine maintains that researchers are typically not as ethical as they claim or assume to be — and that “each job includes ways of doing things that would be inappropriate for others to know”.[1]

Fine is not necessarily casting blame or pointing his finger at ethnographic researchers, but rather is attempting to show that researchers often make idealized ethical claims and standards which in actuality are inherently based on partial truths and self-deceptions. Fine also acknowledges that many of these partial truths and self-deceptions are unavoidable. He maintains that “illusions” are essential to maintain an occupational reputation and avoid potentially more caustic consequences. He claims, “Ethnographers cannot help but lie, but in lying, we reveal truths that escape those who are not so bold”.[2] Based on these assertions, Fine establishes three conceptual clusters in which ethnographic ethical dilemmas can be situated: “Classic Virtues,” “Technical Skills,” and “Ethnographic Self.”

Much debate surrounding the issue of ethics arose after the ethnographer Napoleon Chagnon conducted his ethnographic fieldwork with the Yanomamo people of South America.

Classic virtuesEdit

  • “The kindly ethnographer” – Most ethnographers present themselves as being more sympathetic than they actually are, which aids in the research process, but is also deceptive. The identity that we present to subjects is different from who we are in other circumstances.
  • “The friendly ethnographer” – Ethnographers operate under the assumption that they should not dislike anyone. In actuality, when hated individuals are found within research, ethnographers often crop them out of the findings.[citation needed]
  • “The honest ethnographer” – If research participants know the research goals, their responses will likely be skewed. Therefore, ethnographers often conceal what they know in order to increase the likelihood of acceptance.[3]

Technical skillsEdit

  • “The Precise Ethnographer” – Ethnographers often create the illusion that field notes are data and reflect what “really” happened. They engage in the opposite of plagiarism, giving credit to those undeserving by not using precise words but rather loose interpretations and paraphrasing. Researchers take near-fictions and turn them into claims of fact. The closest ethnographers can ever really get to reality is an approximate truth.
  • “The Observant Ethnographer” – Readers of ethnography are often led to assume the report of a scene is complete – that little of importance was missed. In reality, an ethnographer will always miss some aspect because they are not omniscient. Everything is open to multiple interpretations and misunderstandings. The ability of the ethnographer to take notes and observe varies, and therefore, what is depicted in ethnography is not the whole picture.
  • “The Unobtrusive Ethnographer” – As a “participant” in the scene, the researcher will always have an effect on the communication that occurs within the research site. The degree to which one is an “active member” affects the extent to which sympathetic understanding is possible.[4]

The ethnographic selfEdit

The following appellations are commonly misconceived conceptions of ethnographers:

  • “The Candid Ethnographer” – Where the researcher situates themselves within the ethnography is ethically problematic. There is an illusion that everything reported has actually happened because the researcher has been directly exposed to it.
  • “The Chaste Ethnographer” – When ethnographers participate within the field, they invariably develop relationships with research subjects/participants. These relationships are sometimes not accounted for within the reporting of the ethnography despite the fact that they seemingly would influence the research findings.
  • “The Fair Ethnographer” – Fine claims that objectivity is an illusion and that everything in ethnography is known from a perspective. Therefore, it is unethical for a researcher to report fairness in their findings.
  • “The Literary Ethnographer” – Representation is a balancing act of determining what to “show” through poetic/prosaic language and style versus what to “tell” via straightforward, ‘factual’ reporting. The idiosyncratic skill of the ethnographer influences the face-value of the research.[5]

eight principles should be considered for observing, recording and sampling data according to Denzin:

  1. The groups should combine symbolic meanings with patterns of interaction.
  2. Observe the world from the point of view of the subject, while maintaining the distinction between everyday and scientific perceptions of reality.
  3. Link the group’s symbols and their meanings with the social relationships.
  4. Record all behaviour.
  5. Methodology should highlight phases of process, change and stability.
  6. The act should be a type of symbolic interactionism.
  7. Use concepts that would avoid casual explanations.


  1. Fine, p. 267
  2. Fine, p. 291
  3. Fine, p. 270-77
  4. Fine, p. 277-81
  5. Fine, p. 282-89