Qualitative research w. literary qualities
September 5, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Recommend me some qualitative studies with literary qualities

I have realized that I enjoy well written qualitative research, such as ethnographic, narrative and phenomenological studies, a lot. It can reach great heights through combining journalistic, scientific and literary qualities. I also like the "article length". Please provide links to your favourite qualitative studies. I have access to a lot of academic databases.
posted by okokok to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Eckhart's Jocks and Burnouts
posted by k8t at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2010

Clifford Geertz's ethnographic studies ("Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight," for example) are classics.

I don't have a free link handy but you should have no trouble finding it.
posted by pantarei70 at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2010

I came here to recommend Geertz, too. "Negara: the Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali" is good to move onto as a full-length book if you like "Deep Play" (which you can find at least some of here).

I'd also recommend "The Cheese and the Worms" by Carlo Ginzburg - although the English version is in translation from the original Italian, it is still a very literary translation of an extremely literary historical work. It is a "microhistory" of a 16th century Italian miller called Menocchio and his trial for heresy. Although a book rather than an article, it is relatively short.

If you like that, you will probably like "The Great Cat Massacre" by Robert Darnton, about mock trials and executions of cats held by French printing apprentices in the early 18th century. Again very well written (Darnton was a journalist before he was a historian) and as a bonus, is a series of essays rather than a full book.
posted by greycap at 1:06 PM on September 5, 2010

Tristes Tropique, a memoir by Claude Levi Strauss, consisting primarily of anthropological musings. The organizers of Prix Goncourt (France's highest literary prize for novels). The memoir itself is not really a formal study of a particular anthropological phenomenon, although one could consider the whole book a study of human nature.
posted by moiraine at 2:34 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Learning to Labour by Willis and Aronowitz.

Related to this (or should I say the inspiration for LtL), Street Corner Society by Whyte.

Queens and Teen Zines: Early Adolescent Females Reading Their Way toward Adulthood (article) by Finders. The book that Finders wrote (Just Girls) is also good-- I believe it is her dissertation, and the article then would be from the dissertation as well.

All Our Kin by Stack
posted by oflinkey at 3:45 PM on September 5, 2010

Your request--for article-length studies--is a little tough to meet in anthropology, at least, because a lot of articles focus on theory and leave ethnographic depth for monographs. But yes, Geertz's essays in particular are excellent.

Sticking to esays, Michael Taussig might interest you: you can find his Magic of the State online, and Google Books might let you read some of the other essays from The Nervous System. I don't know what he's on about half the time, but if you like your literary with a dash of the surreal, you might enjoy him.

Actually, if you don't mind dipping into material that's much more on the humanities side than the social side of anthropology, you should peruse the archives of Public Culture, which has carried a lot of very interesting writers in anthropology and cultural studies over the years.
posted by col_pogo at 2:42 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you! Now I have some material to read. Feel free to mention any anthropological monographies of literary quality, even if they are beyond article length. Thanks again!
posted by okokok at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2010

Great question.

I second Michael Taussig, and add his student Kathleen Stewart.

Also Richard Price and Sally Price (especially The Convict and the Colonel), and Bernard Lortat-Jacob.
posted by umbĂș at 1:23 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

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