Nalyzing Everyday Life: Religious Services

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Data Workshop Assignment
Analyzing Everyday Life: Religious Services

This research assignment asks you to describe the material and non-material (symbolic) culture of a religious service. You will be doing participant observation to write a short ethnography about the religious service of your choice. Select a house of worshipa a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other place, and attend a service there. It may a faith you belong to already, or one that is unfamiliar. Any choice is fine as long as it is open to the public. You may want to contact their offices first to find out if there are any dress codes or other requirements that you should know about before attending. Remember, when you visit your chosen house of worship, you must behave in an appropriate manner. If you suspect that you cannot maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor (if thatas what is called for), then choose a different service to attend.

Since you will be using ethnographic methods, you will need to refer to Chapter 2 of the textbook to review how such research is conducted. You will be doing participant observation and writing field notes that will become your data to analyze. You will need to closely observe all that takes place around you. Since it is probably not appropriate to jot down notes during the service, you will want to write your field notes as soon as possible afterwards. Donat wait or you will lose some of the detail that makes for a good ethnography.

You will want to observe aspects of both the material and non-material (symbolic) culture at the service. Refer to Chapter 3 of the textbook to define and discuss culture. Describe the material culture you see, for instance the architecture, furnishing, clothing, statues, decorations, paintings, musical instruments, vessels, books or other physical objects that are present.

You will also want to describe aspects of the symbolic culture you see. How are the services structured? When do participants stand, sit or kneel, speak, read, pray, sing, meditate or take part in other activities? Pay as much attention as possible to the interactions that occur throughout the service. For instance, what types of different roles do people take ona leaders, helpers, participants? Are there both adults and children present? Do men and women participate in the same ways? When do people act in unison or when do they act individually? Are they all deeply involved at all times? How do participants behave toward each other?

Your paper should be approximately 4 double-spaced, type-written pages. This does not include any cover page, references or attachments. Frame your paper with a discussion of your research. You will want to refer to relevant concepts from the text, and cite them. Discuss the process of conducting ethnographic research (Ch. 2). You will also want to refer to your field notes as data to support your discussion. Describe aspects of the culture that you observed at the service (Ch. 3).