Recent -Stage One: Three Brief Ethnographies

Stage One: Three Brief Ethnographies

Based upon your readings of Goffman and Blackboard selections on writing field notes, your fieldwork assignment is to visit 2 different New York City courts and 1 Federal Court. Based upon your notes and class discussions, you are required to report back your observations in 4 pages papers; one for each court. You should plan to spend 2 to 3 hours on each observation – the approximate length of either a morning session or afternoon session. Also, keep in mind that all persons entering the courthouse must go through a magnetometer. Please arrive in time to allow for security screening.

At anytime, the judge or other court officials might inquire about you observing. Remember to identify yourself as a student. Most court hearings are public but some are closed for the preservation of the rights of some parties. You can always slip into a different courtroom!

Rubric for Each Observation:

  • Introduction (1/2 page; introduce the problem; make sure to specify which court, presiding Judge, type of hearings attending, etc.) (10 %)
  • Setting and Symbolism of the Court (1 page) (20 %)
  • The Ritualistic Elements of Interaction (1 page) (20 %)
  • The Story (2 pages; What happened/What is going on here?) (40 %)
  • Concluding Reflection (1/2 page; What do you think about this experience? / Bring it all together!!!) (10 %)