American Sociological Association

Contexts Editors on the Magazine’s Ethnography Forum

This is a guest post by Syed Ali and Philip Cohen, Contexts co-editors.

Contexts Magazine’s Ethnography Forum

A few months ago, the ASA Council asked us if we’d be interested in organizing a forum on “best practices” in ethnography in response to recent highly critical press. Council asked that this not be more critique, but rather thinking about ethnography going forward, something to spur the conversation along. We agreed that it seemed like a good idea.

It was. We asked a bunch of scholars to write their takes and we published six articles in our forum, How to do ethnography right. The response we’ve received has been fantastic. It quickly became one of the most read pieces on the website. It was widely shared on social media, and a number of people said they’d use it in their methods classes. Mission accomplished.

Well… not quite. There was some discontent in (where else) the twittersphere. Not a lot, but a coupWinter 2016 Contexts Coverle of folks pointed out that some perspectives were missing. Okay… fair enough. How could that happen? Again, we asked a bunch of people and some said yes and some said no. The yeses wrote their papers, we edited, and then published. Should we have done a call for papers? Would that have broadened the scope? Maybe. But there are only so many hours in the day, and this was work outside of the magazine. So… we didn’t.

In any case, we think what’s there is great. If you haven’t read it, the links to the individual papers are below. If you have read it, feel free to read it again. Also, the latest issue of the magazine is out. Some stuff is on, and you can read the whole thing free (binge read?) until April 21 at

syed ali and philip cohen

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Johanna Olexy
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