Enzo Colombo

Etnografia dei mondi contemporanei. Limiti e potenzialità del metodo etnografico nell'analisi della complessità

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Ethnography is becoming one of the most important research methods in social sciences. Its contemporary fortune has to be read into a specific frame of attention for issues like: difference, otherness, symbolic and cultural processes of meaning construction, everyday life. Ethnography - with its attention to relations, actions and accounts - seams to be a fitting tool to better catch how different people in different situations construct social reality. This paper tries to evaluate new methodological questions that rise when ethnography is used as an investigation technique in complex contests. Facing epistemic, theoretical and methodological problems posed by the so calling interpretive turn, the analysis focuses on the different "souls" that compose the magmatic and changeable field of contemporary ethnography. Four different "souls" are individuated and discussed: post-positivistic or naturalistic, interpretive, radical post-modern and reflexive post-modern (the last can be divided into two different approaches: constructivist and critical). The paper ends by shortly analysing how ethnography has to conserve a precise orientation toward otherness (avoiding to look only at the researchers and his/her field experience) and complexity (avoiding to cast into local contests people and actions that inevitably have a global dimension).

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