Ethnographic Fieldwork A Beginner's Guide Author: Jan Blommaert, Dong Jie

Paperback - 120 pages
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31 Jul 2020
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


Ethnographic fieldwork is something which is often presented as mysterious and inexplicable. How do we know certain things after having done fieldwork? Are we sure we know? And what exactly do we know? This book describes ethnographic fieldwork as the gradual accumulation of knowledge about something you donít know much about. We start from ignorance and gradually move towards knowledge, on the basis of practices for which we have theoretical and methodological motivations. Jan Blommaert and Dong Jie draw on their own experiences as fieldworkers in explaining the complexities of ethnographic fieldwork as a knowledge trajectory. They do so in an easily accessible way that makes these complexities easier to understand and to handle before, during and after fieldwork. The 2nd edition of this bestselling book updates the 1st edition and includes a new postscript on ethnography in an online world.


This book takes the reader into a wonderfully complex, multivocal conversation on ethnographic practice. The new edition successfully extends these conversations into the ever more ‘ethnographically thick’ realm of online socialisation and subjectivation. It provides guidance and insights which are edifying and superbly didactic for beginners while profoundly inspiring for advanced scholars.

- Karel Arnaut, KU Leuven, Belgium

This book provides a precise and practical approach to linguistic fieldwork. It does so not only by reaffirming ethnography’s core principles but also by updating this method to study communicative practices in the online-offline nexus. Blommaert and Dong provide a welcome reframing of the discipline, in which theoretical reasoning equals practical problem-solving and ‘subjectivity’ is an indispensable and crucial tool.

- Marco Jacquemet, University of San Francisco, USA

This is a beautiful book. It presents a highly readable and insightful account of how doing ethnography helps us build theories of language in social life. For the novice, it offers rich accounts that model and exemplify the doing of ethnography. For old-timers, this second edition illuminates the challenges and rewards of exploring the online-offline nexus.

- Zane Goebel, The University of Queensland, Australia

Author Biography:

Jan Blommaert is Professor of Language, Culture and Globalization at Tilburg University (The Netherlands) and is also affiliated to Ghent University (Belgium) and the University of the Western Cape (South Africa). He is the Director of the Babylon Research Center at Tilburg University.

Dong Jie is tenured Associate Professor of Linguistics at Tsinghua University, China. She is the author of Discourse, Identity, and Chinaís Internal Migration (2011, Multilingual Matters) and The Sociolinguistics of Voice in Globalising China (2017, Routledge).

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional, Text

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