The Ethnographic Imagination
November 2000, Polity
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Willis argues that ethnography plays a vital role in constituting 'sensuousness' in textual, methodological, and substantive ways, but it can do this only through the deployment of an associated theoretical imagination which cannot be found simply there in the field. He presents a bold and incisive ethnographically oriented view of the world, emphasizing the need for a deep-running social but also aesthetic sensibility. In doing so he brings new insights to the understanding of human action and its dialectical relation to social and symbolic structures. He makes original contributions to the understanding of the contemporary human uses of objects, artefacts and communicative forms, presenting a new analysis of commodity fetishism as central to consumption and to the wider social relations of contemporary societies. He also utilizes his perspective to further the understanding of the contemporary crisis in masculinity and to cast new light on various lived everyday cultures - at school, on the dole, on the street, in the Mall, in front of TV, in the dance club.
This book will be essential reading for all those involved in planning or contemplating ethnographic fieldwork and for those interested in the contributions it can make to the social sciences and humanities.