Monday, February 6, 2012

Journal Entry #11

So I really like our last reading assignment. It discussed participant observation, and although the writing was a bit exhaustive about how to do it, what to pay attention to, and how to think about the situations that you are placed in, I think I'm getting used to these sorts of texts, because I still really liked it.

And just a side note her, but I'm pretty sure that people who do participant observation studies for a living all put "Invisibility Cloak" on their Christmas lists as kids. To be sure, turning invisible would be the most convenient thing in the world when you're observing a certain situation. I went to a play at the Hale Center Theatre for my participant observation experience, and it there were multiple times when I wished I could leave my seat to observe from a different angle. I'm sure all anthropologists feel the same way. At the same time, it's hard not to feel a little uncomfortable about the idea of doing similar studies while I'm in London. I go with the hope that I will be able to make friends with most Londoners, and here we are learning how to sit and observe them. It's like London is this giant glass habitat that I'm going to go visit so I can observe all the insects...erm...people that live there. How would I like it if people visited Provo to do the same thing to us? There they'd be, those foreign chinese students, staking out a spot on the hill behind the Maeser building with their binoculars, observing us as we leave the testing center...it would be pretty weird.

Then again, there's simply no way one can learn about how other people and cultures and organizations work without actually being there. If you go be a part of something, you'll know how it works a million times better than if you had just read or heard about it. Since I'm going to be studying religion, I'm probably going to be staking out cathedrals and churches a few times, just to notice what people do when they're inside. Participant observation in this sense will be pretty uninvolved, but spending a few hours at different times during the week inside churches in England might give me a good idea about what motivates people to go to church and what they do when they go. Sigh...still, it would be a lot less awkward if I had an invisibility cloak.

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