Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice
In this extended meditation, Jean Lave interweaves analysis of the process of apprenticeship among the Vai and Gola tailors of Liberia with reflections on the evolution of her research on those tailors in the late 1970s. In so doing, she provides both a detailed account of her apprenticeship in the art of sustained fieldwork and an insightful overview of thirty years of changes in the empirical and theoretical facets of ethnographic practice. Examining the issues she confronted in her own work, Lave shows how the critical questions raised by ethnographic research erode conventional assumptions, altering the direction of the work that follows.
As ethnography takes on increasing significance to an ever widening field of thinkers on topics from education to ecology, this erudite but accessible book will be essential to anyone tackling the question of what it means to undertake critical and conceptually challenging fieldwork. Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice explains how to seriously explore what it means to be human in a complex world—and why it is so important.
Foreword by Thomas P. Gibson
1 Introduction: Apprenticeship and Critical Practice
2 Institutional Arrangements and the Uniform
3 Becoming a Tailor
4 Testing Learning Transfer
5 Multiplying Situations
6 Research on Apprenticeship, Research as Apprenticeship
“Dizzying at times with its dual if not triple focus, this book makes us into apprentices on apprenticeship through apprenticeship. It shifts and moves us along a journey as we turn each page. Lave demonstrates what still seems to be hidden, overlooked, or stated only in the abstract: that we are all of us, researchers and subjects alike, in traction across the fields of our lives. There never was and will never be a material ‘there’ and a mental ‘here’: they make and remake each other at every step. This book is practice in action.”
“This is a fascinating and brilliant book that chronicles Lave’s career-long effort to escape the dualistic logics that constrain social analysis and to come to terms with what it means to recognize that context is everything and that there is no non-socially-situated praxis. As Lave compels and challenges us to rethink and redo pretty much everything we have been doing as social analysts so far, we find that we have to dispense with not just some of our tried-and-true concepts—particularly the distinctions between formal and informal, practice and theory, and doing and thinking—but ways of relating them to one another and to the worlds they supposedly describe.”