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Fieldwork for Social Research

Fieldwork for Social Research
A Student's Guide

December 2023 | 312 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

A step-by-step introduction to successful fieldwork, this guide will help you to plan, design, conduct and share your research.

Packed with practical tools and real-world examples, it includes:

·       Field-tested checklists for each stage of your research

·       A glossary with key, highlighted terms

·       Postcards from fieldwork experts providing global case studies

·       Further reading that expands social theory into applied research

·       Advice on effective virtual research within digital and hybrid settings as well face-to face fieldwork.

Clear, pragmatic, and multidisciplinary, this is the perfect book to open your eyes, ears, and minds to the world of fieldwork.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Part I: Getting Started
Chapter 2: Fieldwork and the Field
Chapter 3: Curiosity and Research Design
Part II: Critical Fieldwork
Chapter 4: Working Together
Chapter 5: Ethical Fieldwork
Chapter 6: Decolonising Fieldwork
Part III: Methods in Context
Chapter 7: Interviews and Conversations
Chapter 8: Participant Observation, Participatory Fieldwork
Chapter 9: Visual Fieldwork
Chapter 10: Digital Fieldwork
Chapter 11: Social Media for Fieldwork
Chapter 12: Multisensory and Embodied Fieldwork
Chapter 13: Exploring with Secondary Sources
Chapter 14: Understanding and Handling Data
Chapter 15: Takeaways - for Work and Life

For many students, fieldwork is seen as a daunting prospect. Many who conduct social research at an undergraduate level have little to no experience working in the field, with many students having moved into the discipline after studying a broad range of subjects during their A-Levels or equivalent. This book is the perfect introduction for undergraduates to how to do research across various social science disciplines. Richard and Jennifer have written warmly and caringly, guiding students through the challenges and joys of conducting research. This style can be seen through the engagement with not just the typical idea of an undergraduate student or classical forms of fieldwork but from the wide range of students and fieldwork types that the book engages with and speaks to. The book demonstrates that research is for any student in many places.

Using postcards from other researchers inspiringly illustrates the broad range of research methods and fields within the social sciences, capturing your imagination as you read. One of the most vital aspects of this book is the contributions from a wide range of social scientists, from undergraduates and PhD students to established doctors and professors. The wide range of ideas and experiences helps make fieldwork appear accessible to all audiences. 

This book is relevant and useful for anyone engaging in social sciences, from an undergraduate to a PhD student like myself, alongside more senior colleagues looking for a new research direction. 

Ollie Chesworth
University of Sheffield

This book offers an excellent guide and thought-provoking reflections for students and researchers undertaking fieldwork across the social sciences, arts and humanities. Phillips and Johns creatively show the powerful and transformative process of conducting fieldwork, highlighting its challenges and opportunities.

The first part comprehensively discusses the concept of fieldwork and its importance for social sciences, drawing on different perspectives from some of the book's contributors. The authors - in a practical, ethical and fun way - show how curiosity is a key element for academic research projects. The second part emphasises the importance of conducting ethical fieldwork, beyond minimum university requirements, and of decolonising fieldwork, breaking its colonial, Eurocentric and gendered roots and traditions. Especially for those who have never conducted research with human participants before and don’t know where to start, its reflections on ethics, collaborative work and inclusivity are fundamental.

By providing plenty of real-life examples, the final part presents a range of different methods to illustrate many creative possibilities for ethical and effective data collection and analysis. In particular, the chapters on Digital Fieldwork and Social Media for Fieldwork nicely summarise the use of digital tools in social research and its ethical implications and provide a range of examples on how social researchers are using them; thus, advancing a debate that is very current and is gaining more and more space in academic research. The clear guidance of different ways to disseminate your research findings online - and ethically - is particularly noteworthy.

Davi Lemos
Georgraphy, University of Sheffield

Sage College Publishing

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