SEMINAR: On the Dearth of Ethnography in Higher Education
In the decade that just passed there were some notable lamentation about the lack of attention to ethnographic research in post-secondary education, or higher education (HE) as it is better known (Thrift 2011; Pabian 2014, Iloh & Tierney 2014; Gusterson 2017). To call the level, or amount of concern significant, would be an exaggeration, but this does not mean that the claims regarding a dearth of ethnography in HE is not significant, at least for those of us with professional interest in the area. In this chapter I want to bring the concerns together into the one space, opening up an important question for any ethnographer – “what is going on here”? (Geertz 1976; Walvoord & McCarthy 1990). The question takes us to the heart of the ethnographic imaginary, or more accurately imaginaries – views and versions of ethnography after all are matters of perspective and standpoint (Massey 2004). From there, I want to explore what it means to apply ethnographic imaginaries to higher education, speculating on whether some of the various ways in which ethnography is imagined and represented hinder its adaptation into HE.
Martin is an educational sociologist/anthropologist with particular interests in the social and cultural effects of schooling. More recently he has been paying attention to higher education, focusing on learning & teaching and the internationalization of tertiary education. Martin’s publications include books on neoliberal reform of government schooling and school choice. The range of papers reflect his interdisciplinary commitments as well as his interest in qualitative research methods. Martin recently became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
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