Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A WTF moment

Sitting on the train back from work this evening, I happened to notice a somewhat pious-looking woman next to me take out a Mac laptop; the lovely machine was marred by what looked suspiciously like lefty protest stickers.

It was only a few minutes later—when said woman had been hammering away at the keys for some little while—that I happened to glance across at the title of the essay that she was working on...
Visual-based Ethnography for Youth Studies in Education Research: an Example from North America.

People often go on about my privileged education but, despite all the money expended, the teaching cannot have been up to much because I have—quite literally—no fucking clue what that heap of bollocks above actually means.

Perhaps someone who has more recently fought their way through the intellectual wreckage that passes for the British education system could enlighten me...?

21 comments:

The Nameless Libertarian said...

In my experience of academia (which grows by the day) there is a real premium on being as obscurantist as possible. Partly, I think, to make the person talking utter nonsense feel like they are part of an elite, and partly because it is far less easy to disprove your arguments if no-one knows what the hell you're banging on about.

Of course, everything can be deciphered given time and energy. I suspect, though, that it would be a waste of both to try to understand the title of this essay.

Simon Cooke said...

Collecting pictures, video and other visual material in order to get an understanding of the subjects (in this case young people) - widely used in social anthropology where the groups are illiterate or semi-literate - which probably applies to kids at Uk schools these days.

Anonymous said...

She didn't look anything like this did she?

http://web.me.com/footageyouth/Footage_Youth/Kristen.html

dalethecaptain said...

Sounds like standard training material for the £100K a year job as an Ethnic Outreach Co-ordinator that every council up and down the land have an urgent vacancy to fill...

I have a spent a long time living in and trying to understand the culture of welfare addicts, and the mind boggles.

So much so, that now this has become a viable career for some, in lay-mans (or person) terms I think its basically Scientific People Watching.

Utter, utter bollocks.

Devil's Kitchen said...

"She didn't look anything like this did she?"

She did rather. Couldn't swear to it being the same person though...

DK

Dick Puddlecote said...

Once you've ploughed through loads of this shit, that's almost common parlance.

Or self-perpetuating empire-building, as I like to call it.

Unity said...

What you've got there, as Simon says, is either a social anthropologist or an sociologist.

Based on the title alone, it looks as if she's working on a study of street fashion amongst young people and what this has to say about the social and cultural mores of youth subcultures.

The title suggests an academic study more than anything else, but if she is pulling down £100K a year it won't be as an ethnic outreach officer at a local authority, it'll be because she works in the private sector.

It not uncommon, these days, for commercial businesses to hire ethnographers to assist in product/service design and/or marketing in order to help them understand the cultural practices and mores that surround products.

So, for example, if you're getting into the sportswear business, you might hire an ethnographer to help you understand why a particular rival brand (Nike) is considered to be cool or fashionable within a particular subculture in the hope of emulating that success when you bring your own products to the market.

Who knows, Apple might well have used ethnographers during the development of the iPhone and iPad.

Katabasis said...

This is why I'm often criticised for having a "journalistic style" in my academic papers.

I actually want a wide range of people to not only fucking understand them but also to maybe, just maybe, actually derive some pleasure and utility from reading them.

Far, far too many of my academic peers appear to spend a lot of time making noises at eachother and then pretending to have understood one another. They then draw down and disburse funds on the basis of this "valuable work".

The Post Modern Essay Generator was funny once. It really isn't anymore...

Roger Thornhill said...

"People often go on about my privileged education but, despite all the money expended, the teaching cannot have been up to much because I have—quite literally—no fucking clue what that heap of bollocks above actually means"

You have identified it as a heap of bollocks. Pater Devil can rest assured that his money was not entirely wasted.

JuliaM said...

"The Post Modern Essay Generator was funny once. It really isn't anymore.."

I wonder if anyone's ever got away with successfully using that in an academic work?

I wouldn't be at all surprised, frankly.

Unity, as usual, misses the point: "It not uncommon, these days, for commercial businesses to hire ethnographers to assist in product/service design and/or marketing in order to help them understand the cultural practices and mores that surround products."

I couldn't care less what a private company does; if I don't buy their product, I'm not directly funding them, but I AM directly funding Jocasta Smythe-Fortescue's useless non-job with the council...

Nigel Sedgwick said...

An improvement surely (at least for me). It's sokal that 'they' have moved on from using the vocabulary of theoretical physics.

Best regards

FlipC said...

The title's a little too ambiguous. One interpretation is that this is a report on a North American study used to group youths in education. So you can treat an emo differently to a jock type of thing.

Pogo said...

Hmmm... Makes bosonic string quantum mechanics seem as clear as day in comparison! :-)

Anonymous said...

It's a sociology-based paper and sociology is a left-wing ideological position, not an academic discipline.

FlipC said...

It's a sociology-based paper and sociology is a left-wing ideological position, not an academic discipline

Now that's what deserves a WTF moment.

Andrew Mooney said...

Visual Based Ethnography : Graffiti.
Youth Studies : Black people.
Education Research : Spying on them in the one location that they have to go to.

= Searching school property for evidence of their gang allegiances.

...But you mustn't say such things openly as you don't know who is reading it over your shoulder.

Professor Pizzle said...

Why is she using a tool of the Hegemon?

Last time I looked, Apple were a Multinational corporate giant who use Globalised labour.

Evil.

Why doesn't she use one of those laptops created by self-sufficient, non-profit making, communes?

Roger Thornhill said...

"Why doesn't she use one of those laptops created by self-sufficient, non-profit making, communes?"


Cave paintings are too heavy to carry on the train.

Richard said...

Dunno what it means, but I bet it's funded (directly or indirectly) by the taxpayer.

Typewriter said...

Unity: "What you've got there, as Simon says, is either a social anthropologist or an sociologist."

Maybe, but you have definitely got a socialist.

andyp said...

Graffiti as a metaphor for cultural identity.
Banksy et al defining new structural paradigms.(Levi Strauss & the left bank pondlife)
Semitotics (Derrida & co) is the next big thing with the millbank mafia.

P.S. I am a libertarian Forensic Anthropologist