The Role of Theory in Ethnographic Research

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The Role of Theory in Ethnographic Research

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Title: The Role of Theory in Ethnographic Research
Author: Wilson, William Julius; Chaddha, Anmol

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Citation: Wilson, William Julius, and Anmol Chaddha. 2010. The Role of Theory in Ethnographic Research. Ethnography 10(4): 549-564.
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Abstract: Scholars, including urban poverty researchers, have not seriously debated the important issues that Loïc Wacquant raised in his controversial review of books by Elijah Anderson, Mitchell Duneier, and Katherine Newman concerning the disconnect between theory and ethnographic research. Despite the tone of Wacquant’s review, we feel that he made a contribution in raising important issues about the role of theory in ethnography. The responses to his review that address this issue, especially those by Anderson and Duneier, are also important because they help to broaden our understanding of how theory is used in ethnographic research. What we take from this exchange is that good ethnography is theory driven, and is likely to be much more reflective of inductive theoretical insights than those that are purely deductive. Moreover, we show that in some ethnographic studies the theoretical insights are neither strictly deductive nor inductive, but represent a combination of both.
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