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u07d1 Qualitative Research: Ethnography

For the ethnography article you selected in u07s2, do the following:

Identify the level of analysis used in the study.

Identify the key phenomena under investigation.

Describe the data collection process, including the role of the researcher.

Describe the approach to analyzing the data in this study.

Evaluate the appropriateness of the selected design. How might you have designed this study
differently?

Post the URL of the article in your response.

Response Guidelines
After reviewing the discussion postings choose one learner to respond to.

Follow the URL to the article being discussed.

Using the language of research, explain how you agree or disagree with the learner's evaluation,
offering your own suggestions for improving the research design.

This ethnographic research study by Moore (2009) used a molecular and macro level of analysis
to identify the behavioral characteristics of the skateboarding culture. The researcher compiled
the ethnographic data through observations of the activities of professional skateboarders
demonstrated in a segment (Chapter 13) of the video, Planes, Trains and Skateboards recorded at
the X Games X outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The 30 participants (10%
female, 90% male) ranged from teenage to early thirties in age and consisted of professional
skateboarders (street skaters, vert skaters, and big air skaters) participating in the X games X.
The author defined the participants in the above categories as the following: Street skaters are
those who predominantly skate on streets and other public domains where concrete and obstacles
offer an interesting playground. Vert skaters are those who skate on a half-pipe, usually made of
wood or concrete shaped like half of a pipe cut through the diameter. Big air skaters are the
newest genre to the culture as these athletes are the most experienced group of skaters and
choose a mega-ramp that rises as high as seven stories in the air from which they drop-in to
gain enough speed to carry them across the bottom, up the opposite side, and above the ramp by
as much as 15 or 20 feet above the rim (Moore, 2009).
The data collection process consisted of documenting non verbal cues, behavior, and cultural
artifacts (hair, clothes, body art, equipment, etc.). The researcher engaged the data analysis
process by identifying patterns of behavior, communication through participant interaction and
crowd response, demographics and action scenes. The data patterns were categorized into the
following themes: acceptance, energy and drive, concern for safety, self-expression of style, and

progression (Moore, 2009). Each theme was substantiated by the author through detailed
observational data. Inferences based upon the data regarding the values and behavior inherent in
the skateboarding culture was posited.
Unfortunately, this ethnographic study is fraught with internal validity bias. The video was
edited by a production crew who subjectively introduced images and scenes they determined had
demographic marketing and entertainment value for a potential targeted viewing audience.
Viewing a video of this nature as an ethnographic study obviously limits the availability and
perception of the data to subjectively predetermined images. Secondly, viewing a segment of a
video (the author does not indicate the time frame) also limits the availability of data, and thus
significantly affects the data analysis process and theme development. Lastly, the researchers
extensive sport background may have embellished or distracted from an accurate perception of
the source data.
According to Leedy & Ormrod (2010), an ethnographic researcher should study a group in its
natural setting for a lengthy period of time, sometimes several months or years. In order to
access a valid and reliable ethnographic study of this culture, it is imperative that a researcher
engage in an in person, indepth, longitudinal immersion in the culture to gather observational
data which include the lifestyles and struggles of the participants in addition to the behavioral
and institutionalized entertainment culture surrounding the competitive events of the sport.
Anthony Rhodes
General Psychology Ph.D
References
Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2010). Practical research: Planning and design (9th ed.). Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN: 9780137152421.
Moore, Linda. (2009). An Ethnographic Study of the Skateboarding Culture. The Sport Journal.
12(4). ISSN: 1543-9518. Retrieved May 25, 2010 from
http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/ethnographic-study-skateboarding-culture.