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Basic Elements
The Handbook of Folknography
By David Lucus

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Jan 19, 2006
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Textbook ISBN 0-536

Folknography, a flexible and practical qualitative method of cultural research, depends heavily on the researcher’s ability to engage a culture. The following elements make folknography an applicable research method for many and various circumstances:

1. Folknography depends on triangulation of data collection. For example, implementing the research method involves AT LEAST three different data collection processes. Investigators can employ short survey instruments; extended interviews; focus groups; plenary sessions; observations; context analysis, or content analysis.

2. Generally, folknography is employed by research teams. Even though teams may break out into smaller work groups, at the end of the research day, all members collect for a debriefing session and compare experiences, filed notes, interesting data, and observations.

3. Researchers, employing folknography, write daily narratives based on their field notes taken throughout the day’s field work. Some investigators use tape recorders for better recollection while others rely on the more traditional activity of writing good, accurate notes. Like other qualitative methods, folknography depends on thick descriptions.

4. Digital photos, artistic renderings, and video clips become part of the data collection of a folknographic study. The researcher retains the ability to express the perceptions and attitudes of the folk employing a myriad of options.

5. Each project employs a heavy use of technology. A mobile writing lab, set up in each project base of operations, allows researchers to record narratives, digital photos and recordings, and artistic images through the use of the lap tops, scanners and other portable equipment available in the lab. Investigators can share information and impressions. Each day, some data are posted on the project’s dedicated web page. Social scientists, students, professors, and informants in the research project can follow the results of any particular project study in virtual real time.

6. Folknography encourages discussion, collaboration and cooperation. The method also creates avenues for the informants to become stakeholders in the project. Folknographic projects have enhanced dialogue and discussion within the communities where teams have performed a study.

7. Folknographic studies have proven especially successful with undergraduate students as researchers. The students learn research techniques, apply technology as a result of the method, and grow as writers and communicators.

Folknography, as a research method, allows the researcher to collect data in various forms and quickly share findings over the internet. Communication and sharing of inferences made by investigators become an integral part of analysis. Investigators seek the voice of the people and provide a platform for them to speak out about issues that concern them. Folknography provides a flexible and practical method to approach social and/or cultural research.