You Will Never Walk Alone: Ethnographic Training as Collective Endeavor by Águeda Ortega, Katherine Jensen, and Javier Auyero (2023)

Teaching Sociology, OnlineFirst

Abstract: Despite being intensely sociable, ethnographic research is also deeply isolating. Although fieldworkers may feel lonely, we contend that they are not (or should not be) alone. At the 10th anniversary of Urban Ethnography Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, we reflect on the ethnographic training cultivated there. We detail objectives, experiences, and lessons learned while also considering challenges for pedagogical projects of ethnographic collectivity—as well as techniques to address them. We contend that learning and teaching sociology through the ethnographic craft is not limited to the classroom but combines reading, writing, fieldwork, and dialogue with other ethnographers. These four dimensions are cultivated through various, simultaneous, classroom-based and research-development activities. We examine activities conducive to the creation of what we call, borrowing from Norbert Elias, an “ethnographer aperti.” Finally, we discuss the replicability of this model, suggesting how universities can expand pedagogical support by pursuing ethnography as more than work in isolation.