8 October 2021

Data Discussion: Data intensive fieldwork at the Danish Peoples Meeting

On the 8th of October, student assistants at DISTRACT Emilie Munch Gregersen and Sofie Læbo Astrupgaard gave a presentation at a Data Discussion event at SODAS.

Watching people meeting: Systematizing qualitative approaches to data intensive fieldwork at the Danish Peoples Meeting

Can we explicate, quantify, and systemize ethnographic data collection across researchers when conducting data intensive fieldwork? And how does a complementary collection of digital and biometric data lead to a deeper understanding of our field? We reflect upon these convoluted questions after having experimented with different data collection methods to  study dynamics of attention and ‘eventness’ during The Danish People’s Meeting 2021.
In anthropological research, traditional approaches to collecting data most often entail a dynamic process for the ethnographer to switch between or simultaneously apply different methods such as participant observation, interviews and writing field notes. In this presentation, we elaborate on our experience with collecting various types of data in a more formalized  and machinic manner. In our approach to capture attention flows at the People’s Meeting, we used structured observational guides for quantifying qualitative observations as well as participant observation and interviews. All of which were written down and reflected upon in a self-developed platform for writing fieldnotes in-situ on our phones. The data output and experiences leave us wondering what is lost and gained when such different data sources and approaches are combined, and when ethnographers are constrained to a common format of data collection.