Home > Ethnography > Why Melinda Rea-Holloway Loves Ethnography

Why Melinda Rea-Holloway Loves Ethnography

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I always knew that I wanted to be a sociologist, I just didn’t know what it was called! Growing up in a family of 9 kids sure taught me a lot about people and the nature of social interactions. Then in my senior year of high school, I took a sociology class from Marcelus Reed and I finally knew what to call my career aspiration.

Teaching sociology for several years taught me a lot about sociological concepts and theories (more than I ever learned in graduate school.) Doing fieldwork with police officers as an undergraduate and with people who were HIV positive as a graduate student taught me a lot about how to listen and approach fieldwork in an inductive way.

I love that ethnography allows me to embrace my curiosity about the world and about people. I love that it allows me to meet people with a variety of experiences and backgrounds. I love that it allows me to continually learn without having to pay tuition or take exams! I love the analytical process of putting it all together—I get paid to do puzzles. I love sharing what we learn with clients and helping them to see their product and their consumer in a more holistic way. I love being able to put my training as a sociologist to practical use. Really, I could go on and on. . . .

I really like dramaturgy (Erving Goffman) because I can see it in practice everyday, in almost any social situation. We are ALL doing impression management ALL the time. This theory helps to remind us how SOCIAL virtually all things are, even things that we tend to think of as personal (like thoughts).

Manila is probably the favorite place I have traveled for work. . .

I loved the mixture of so many different cultures. Daily life routines and rituals occur within a collision of Eastern and Western norms. You can see the many different indigenous, Spanish, Chinese, and American influences in everything from architecture, to food, to language, to religion, to healthcare, and beyond. I often think about places in terms of the ‘heartbeat’ that you feel when moving around the city. I think that Manila has such a friendly, funny and hospitable heartbeat!

Within the US, I love to travel anywhere in the Wisconsin/Minnesota area–some of the nicest people in the US live there. I also have a soft spot for Atlanta and Seattle. Both places where I have conducted oodles of fieldwork, have met lots of people, and eaten lots of good food.

Categories: Ethnography
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