Your essay should consist of 2500-3000 words. Please observe the word limit.
The essay is designed to assess basic skills in social science research, including the ability to locate relevant secondary source materials and the ability to apply research methods such as qualitative interviews.
Among the most often cited books in the social sciences is Clifford Geertz’s The Interpretation of Cultures (1973). This important book contains a seminal chapter titled Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight, in which Geertz attempts to understand the deeper meanings of the cockfight in Balinese culture. Geertz’s observations and the way he described the cockfight is a good example of how ethnography is useful in explaining complex cultural processes. A good ethnographic description is scientific and investigative. The researcher becomes the primary means of data collection. A good ethnographic description also uses rigorous research methods and data collection techniques to avoid bias and ensure accuracy of data. More importantly, the perspectives of the people that are observed are emphasized. Inductive and deductive approaches
are used as well.
1. Read Geertz?s chapter on the Balinese cockfight. Use his approach as a framework for this essay.
2. Create an ethnographic description of a religious phenomenon, event or ritual that you can observe or participate in. The phenomenon, event or ritual need not be confined to a more well-known or institutionalized religion; you can also consider the perspective(s) of adherents of New Age religions, humanists, freethinkers, or even atheists, etc.
3. Use your research findings to analyse and interpret your own participant observation. You
should address the relevance of the ritual, event, or practice to contemporary society. You should also discuss the meanings attributed to the religious phenomenon, event or ritual by the participants and the community of believers.
Student Notes (IMPORTANT):
a) Conduct research of academic sources and present background of phenomenon, ritual or event. Your essay is a research essay that demonstrates content knowledge as well as your
ability to conduct primary and secondary research. You should draw from perspectives from at least two sources outside the course, for example, additional reading materials including journal articles, books, newspapers and other reliable and relevant sources found in databases or elsewhere. Furthermore, you should start your essay by presenting a succinct observation of the religious ceremony, practice or ritual. It should not only demonstrate knowledge of the tradition or worldview (i.e. Buddhism, Islam, Jainism, Wicca,
Humanism, etc.) but also demonstrate a good understanding of social science perspective on the tradition or worldview being observed (25 marks).
b) Formulate clear research question(s). Your essay should include a clearly formulated research question or set of questions that you wish to answer. You are also required to formulate a thesis statement or line of argumentation for the essay (20 marks).
c) Discuss your approach and methodology. This essay requires a descriptive ethnography of
observed religious ceremony, practice or ritual. You should start with a brief description of the methodology, which includes drawing upon perspectives from the course as well as additional perspectives from sources found from your own research (20 marks).
d) Elaborate on your research findings and conclude with your perspectives. The core of your essay should highlight findings from library research and scholarly reflection as well as discoveries made through your own research. Be sure to address both similarities and disjunctures between academic perspectives. You should also offer your evaluation of theoretical perspectives (methodologies, concepts and themes covered in the course) as well as your perspectives in the conclusion of your field findings (25 marks).
e) Submit your bibliography along with your essay. You may include an appendix of materials that you deem relevant in explicating your point, after the main body of your essay and before your bibliography/works cited list (10 marks).
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