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Ethnography's Warrants


"Assuming your argument is empirically sound, so what?" Ethnographers are especially vulnerable to this question because their warrants are commonly diffused throughout their texts, because they aim to describe what is obvious to their subjects, and because such rude questions usually are raised only silently. Perhaps the most common warrant for ethnography is a claim that social forces have created a moralized ignorance that separates research subjects and the research audience. The author discusses several dilemmas that plague ethnographers when they attempt to bridge the gap, and then he describes the strategy of naturalistic ethnography. Last, he briefly addresses a broader range of warrants, identifying five additional, frequently used, complementary justifications for ethnographic studies.

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