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Epistemological issues with ethnographic argumentation Essay

Becker (1998) the idea of bringing together arguments dilemma on ethnographic counts, supplementary materials, field notes, other research materials and other ethnographic texts whereas each of these relates and involves a specific epistemological standpoints normally results to problematic ethnographical argumentation.

This is based on Van (1988) who identifies three approaches to ethnological argumentative writing as (1) confessional tales which entails argumentative elaboration of what people including the ethnographer has said has happened, (2) realist tales; as involving as gathering information and retelling of how the collected information has happened, (3) impressionist tales which may comprise of creating articulation or making connections through impressive texts geared towards drawing a wide allusion with for example poetry and other forms of arts. Such styles carry with them epistemological considerations. T

his in particular brings forth the need for the ethnographer to use ethnographic materials as evidence to develop subthemes to determine how they intend to put together the argument, raising of the epistemological issues to determine the power of claim they intend to develop in the argument, while use of themes will help the ethnographers to make data coherent which is paramount in determining what they want to say in their argument, (Ronnie 2008).

In both ethnographic argumentation of Bourgois and Schonberg’s Righteous Dopefiend, and Malinowski, the issue remains that the accounts are monologic whereby they happen to silence the polyvocal reality of social life through privileged authoritative voice of the ethnographer. Clifford (1983) provides that to address this, ethnographic writing should be made to include the voices of the society members so as to make ethnographic argumentations and texts to include its various participants. Bill, (1996) provides that “the more intellectually imposing the arguments and the finer the techniques for registering the actualities, the more the actions, concerns and lives of people described tend to fade into paleness.”

In reference to Clifford, J. (1988), ethnographic argumentation has been criticized on ground that it does not provide the process by which accounts are produced together with its definition of the reality of the people studied which is highly disguised as objective. Based on this, Clifford advocates for a more collaborative texts and ethnography which is open-ended and multi-vocal.

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