Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Fieldwork, in Qualitative Research
Carolyn L. Wanat
Qualitative researchers collect data through fieldwork. They go into the field where the people and events they wish to study naturally occur. Fieldwork involves a number of data collection techniques that require varying degrees of participation in the field. At every stage of the research process, the qualitative researcher must negotiate access, entry, and cooperation to collect data. He or she faces ethical issues about the appropriate way to interact in the field. Fieldwork has a long, extensive history. Ancient travelers wrote descriptive, subjective reports about the societies they visited. Bronislaw Malinowski conducted the first objective study of a preliterate society, establishing fieldwork as a legitimate research method. Conducted by anthropologists and ethnographers, early fieldwork studies were exploratory. In the early 1900s, the University of Chicago Department of Sociology contributed landmark studies of urban settings and marginalized groups that were scientifically objective and theoretically based. Modern fieldworkers study topics within ...