Field work

Fieldwork is an empirical research method to collect empirical data by means of observation and questioning in the " natural" context. It is operated particularly in anthropology, archeology, education, anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology, and in folklore. The founder of social science research as a method of " yourself Einbohrens the social milieu " is Gottlieb Schnapper -Arndt. Among the more notable representatives of anthropological research in the field are in the western academic world, among others, Leopold von Wiese, Marie Jahoda, Bronisław Malinowski, Marcel Mauss, Franz Boas, Max Gluckman, Gregory Bateson and Georges Devereux.


Subfield research the systematic study of cultures or specific groups is understood by going into their habitat and the everyday life of man is divided from time to time. Using one or more informants and through targeted question points and participant observation are interesting information about the culture or group in question collected.

The researcher tried doing as objectively as possible to watch. Prerequisite for this is an awareness of one's roots and cultural prejudices as well as an intensive examination of one's own role and approach (see also Grounded Theory ). Weighting are also high ethical demands on researchers or researcher: dignity, privacy and anonymity of the researched people must be respected in all circumstances.

A strategy and an essential feature of fieldwork, recording of observations, thoughts, feelings, problems, fears, holding of typical speech utterances, the writing of memory protocols, as well as analyzing, for example, by category and type of education and the final grouping of the observed in a thick description ( Geertz, Clifford ).

The problem is that the field of investigation is affected only by the presence of the researcher. This influence can be alleviated of what is being researched only by a longer research period and by an active participation in daily. The " mimic " method ( " acting " method) by Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss therefore aimed at the greatest possible integration of the researcher in the culture explored by him: He called for the task of their own culture for the period of field research and living example years as " Bedouin " among Arab Bedouins and finally converted to Islam.

Examples of field research in sociology

List of social reports, environmental studies, field research studies and milieu novels The Chicago School of Robert Ezra Park ( "The City" ) and his " successor " form from 1930 a crystallization point of pioneering work, typically starting with topics on micro -sociological perspective on life in the industrial cities or subcultures ( " The Hobo ", " The Polish Peasant in Europe and America" ​​, and later " Outsiders " ) employed. Here the concept of participant observation is developed, which has often been dismissed as unscientific because of the emphasis on the qualitative and empirical methods.

As in the German-speaking fundamentally applies the study of Marie Jahoda and Hans Zeisel on "The Unemployed of Marienthal ". The authors of " it is lunch time being, " by Karin Brandauer filmed in 1998 under the title field study investigated the effects of massive unemployment in a small village in Austria, which was existentially affected by the closure of a textile factory.

By combining qualitative and quantitative methods of social research (observation, structured observation protocols, household surveys, questionnaires, time use sheets, interviews, conversations and simultaneous assistance ) these 1933 published work is methodical pointing the way - even if their reception in German-speaking only years ( decades) later was performed. The group of Austrian sociologists on the example of the embossed by the decline of the textile industry town of Marienthal pointed in their field research study for the first time in this form, precision and depth socio - psychological effects of unemployment and showed the main result that unemployment is not ( as hitherto usually expected) to the active revolt, but rather for passive resignation leads.

" The unemployed of Marienthal " is not only an illustrated with many examples dense empirical description, but also a socially theoretically stimulating working with views of the four attitude types and internally Unbroken, who resigned, the desperate and bedraggled apathetic - with only the first type or " plans and hopes for the future" knew, while the resignation, despair and apathy of the other three types " to surrender led to a future that is not even as plan plays a role in the fantasy."

Given increasingly enforcing demoskopischer mass surveys ( "polls " ) with quantitative methods, large-scale evaluation and policy-relevant presentation were with their special access increasingly less demand at different social milieus and social realities, and also in the academic world apart subdominant - minoritary ethnographic and qualitative studies. However, there were significant conventional ethnographic research in the sense snapper Arndt in the U.S. sociology and social psychology until the 1960s and, following individual studies such as Richard Hoggarts ' The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life' (1957 ), since the 1970s in England: about Howard S. Becker's 1951/55 published delinquency and career - sociological milieu studies on marijuana smokers ( " marijuana user" ) and entertainment musicians or Eric Hoffer's first 1951 published socially literary reports ( "social writings" ) about underclass fanatics ( "true believer" ) and other social outsiders ( " outsiders" ) of the American mass society and its sustained pressure to conform; or British Cultural Studies: Paul Willis ' "Learning Labour " approach to the description and interpretation of counter- young worker lads over the learning needs in one of the ' imprinted middle class ' and their ideological practice school as a social institution.

Apart from scientific outsiders ( such as Norbert Elias ) in rarely on snapper -Arndt relating academic and scientific community are ethnographic field studies such as to contemporary - multiple patchwork biographies ( Peter Gross, St. Gallen) to Vienna prostitutes, professional criminals, the homeless, waiters and the lower austrischen gentry (Roland Girtler ), or, in general theory related, various contributions to the ethnology smaller everyday and life worlds in (West ) Germany ( Ronald Hitzler and Anne Honer ) today, in the early 21st century, the exception rather than rule and insofar as a minority - exotic projects at the same time. So the Vienna Ethno sociologist Roland Girtler examined the marginalized groups of Vienna of the late 20th century. For a limited time, he built intimate contact with certain groups of people (such as prostitutes, homeless people or members of the aristocracy ) to the proximity of personal contact alternately with distancing and reflection, the relevance of the field of those affected by their language (" emic terms " to understand ), to understand the world from their eyes ( see, inter alia Girtlers " 10 commandments of field research ", Vienna 2004, or Girtlers the bar, Vienna 2004).