vrijdag 9 mei 2014

The difference that makes a difference...

A couple of days ago we headed off to the Amsterdamse Bos where we walked and talked about:

The difference that makes a difference…

As ethnographers we go into the field, observe what happens there, talk, listen. What we learn is not the same from one site or situation to the next. Different kinds of things happen and one ‘kind’ of thing may still take a different shape in a subsequent moment or another setting. One informant says that all X are P and the other tells they are Q instead. What is a problem here, seems a blessing a bit further along – and vice versa. How to deal with such differences?

What kind of differences are relevant in and to your field? To you? To ‘the literature’? Which ones do you follow? Which ones do you let go? In which ways are these differences different?

In the social sciences some differences get a lot of attention: geographical ones (between countries), socio-economic ones (between classes), functional ones (between professions, or fields, or systems). How do you relate to such differences?

So what to do, what do you do, with differences? And it is differences that you start with to then show similarities? Or is it the other way around, you begin with what seems similar and then reveal that there are differences attached? And what about translations and travels where one thing turns into another and becomes different to its former self?

And how does all this relate to how your work is different from earlier writings; and to the difference that you hope to make with it?