February 10, 2005
Assignment: Write a tight one or two-page summary of your final paper topic. Explain what work has already been done and what remains to be done in this course. Be specific in explaining what remains to be done. For example, if you have already gathered data on a study abroad and you now need to process that data, explain how you will do so. If you have already processed it but feel that you need a better theoretical context and understanding of the literature, explain what you will be using and where you will find these materials.
For my final project, I’ll improve upon the paper The Zen of Motorcycling: Gold Wing Road Riders and their Social Relations which I wrote for the ethnographic interviewing class in the Fall of 2004. The paper examines the weekly activities of the members of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) and makes the argument that the association is a site of social interaction where relations are mediated through objects and the values therein embedded, such as the motorcycles themselves, its accessories and accents, and so forth.
I want to show the product to prospective employers, especialy to highlight how I can analyze social structures (however that might be intepreted on the employer’s side.)
The paper quality is poor, so it needs a major overhaul in argument structure and presentation of research materials (use of informant quotes and domains/paradigms)
For the paper, I have done six interviews (the third one was left half-transcribed) and some internet research on what the GWRRA’s website says about the organization’s history. (And how the organization presents itself to its members and prospective members, in lieu of the lack of the paper version of the newsletter). I need to work again through the raw material and squeeze more domain structures that help make the point that social relations are indeed mediated through objects.
At the suggestion of professor Guneratne, I have looked up references to Irving Goffman’s theory of staged performance theory, but have failed to incorporate it with the paper’s argument. I plan to search for Goffman’s theory and derivatives to find a previous example of an ethnography with a similar focus.
The raw materials are also a bit lacking. I might do one or two extra interviews in early March with a second informant on what goes on in different GWRRA activities (given the great variety of activites, I have only covered the major few events. Also, my informant did not have first hand knowledge of some recent trends in GWRRA event organizing.)