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Ethnography Lab Workshop: The Video Interview - Bronwyn Frey

Video is an efficient and accessible means of documenting and disseminating what happens in an ethnographic interview. When used together with a transcript, for example, a wealth of visual cues complements the text. While researchers can write things like “[laugh]”, “[hysterical laugh]”, or “[short sarcastic laugh]” in their transcripts, video more richly communicates these and other non-verbal elements involved in the interview. Clothing, ambient sounds, and objects within the frame consciously and unconsciously inform our analysis of the text. Of course, what the videographer decides to exclude from the frame also shapes the ethnography. As in a written ethnography, the people, places, and things the researcher decides to capture necessarily prioritize certain realities while excluding others. Although this narrowing of focus is necessary to conduct effective research, it is important to be aware of the implications of one’s selections. In visual ethnography, this process is further complicated by aesthetic considerations and technical limitations.

This workshop will provide an overview of Bronwyn Frey’s video research in Kensington Market in relation to the practice and ethics of visual ethnography. Together, we will examine excerpts of a video interview and conduct a short exercise in thematic network analysis, which is based on the principles of argumentation theory and shares structures with many other qualitative analytic methods, including grounded theory and frameworks. We will also think about ways to develop this and other analytic methods to address visual as well as textual data.

Workshop Facilitator: Bronwyn Frey, MA Student, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto