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Jocks and Burnouts: Social Categories and Identity in the High School
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While Eckert used the full complement of established ethnographic tools in studying "Belten" High, she relied most heavily on participant-observation. Since she was thrity-eight years old when she began her research, she could not have plausibly adopted the institutionalized role of student. The other roles available -- administrator, teacher, counselor, coach -- were part of the "Belten's" authority structure, with which Eckert did not want to be identified. Furthermore, any of these established adult roles would have limited her mobility, preventing her from freely visiting court yards, the cafeteria, the auditorium, or just walking the hallways to see what was going on and finding students with whom she might do informal, unstructured, open-ended inerviewing.
Eckert purposely avoided observation in classrooms, giving priority to student activities outside of class, and, in some instances, out of school in the larger social and geographical context in which "Belten" was located.Read more ›