At work in the field: problems and opportunities associated with employment during fieldwork

Adam Kaul

Abstract


This paper explores the advantages and drawbacks of gainful employment whilst conducting ethnographic fieldwork. Examples are drawn from the author's fieldwork in a heavily visited tourist destination in western Ireland. Whilst there are potential problems that arise due to employment, the benefits are such that it should not be discouraged outright. Moreover, it needs to be discussed as a potential condition of fieldwork. I found that although employment was initially necessary simply to fund my time in the field it became an intensely useful vehicle for gaining access to local knowledge. Employment allows the field researcher to move into and explore emic categorizations of people, and in this case, observe the interactions between permanent residents and tourists. Employment is very rarely discussed in the literature on anthropological methodology, and this paper is intended to continue a growing dialogue about the pragmatic, day-to-day experience of the field. Introduction

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Anthropology Matters Journal ISSN: 17586453 Publisher: Anthropology Matters url: www.anthropologymatters.com