In part, the themes of this chapter re-visit the hoary sociological question concerning the appropriate relationship between participant observation and interviewing. As I shall go on to suggest, however, the real analytic issues go far beyond the treatment of interviews and conversations. It also involves the proper analysis of spoken actions in situ.
This chapter is taken from Paul Atkinson’s For Ethnography, which recaptures the classic inspirations of ethnographic fieldwork in sociology and anthropology, reflecting on decades of methodological development and empirical research. It is part manifesto, part guidance on the appropriate focus of the ethnographic gaze.