There are two main elements that are addressed in Beverly J. Moss’s article, Ethnography and Composition: Studying Language at Home. The first being the definition of Ethnography, for Moss explores the position of an Ethnographer and how the research should be done. The second element that Moss is concerned about is the relationship between the Ethnographer and the environment, which includes the people that a part of that particular environment.
Moss is doing research on language acquisition learned outside of school. She claims that much of the language that student’s acquire are learned from different community functions that student families are a part of. Moss reflects on her own personal language acquisition as a child, and realized that much influence was taken place at her local Church congregation. Therefore, Moss begins her research, but before she begins she must first gain some knowledge about Ethnography.
According to Moss, “Ethnography is a qualitative research method that allows a researcher to gain comprehensive view of the social interactions, behaviors, and beliefs of a community or social group (Moss 389).” Moss points out certain restraints that may arise when attempting to pursue an ethnographic research project. Since her research would be done at a place that she herself is a part of, then certain approaches must be done. Moss examines the pros and cons when being put in the position of doing research in an environment that is the Ethnographer is a part of. The objective of the Ethnographer is to gather the most righteous information, and Moss points out that sometimes if the people are aware of the research then they are most likely to covet their honest intentions. Therefore, it will tamper with the outcome of the research being made. Moss encourages Ethnographers, who are in the same position as her, to act as a part of the community while doing the study. Therefore, the community feels more comfortable and will start to act like their usual selves. The best results are obtain when the community feels at ease with the Ethnographers.