Department of Anthropology, Sree Chaitnaya College, Habra, India
Email: [email protected]
Smart Ethnography, Occupation, Covid-19, Language, Kinship behaviour
The present paper has tried to discuss what “smart ethnography” is. It has endeavoured to focus on the current situation of ethnography in this pandemic time to some extent. Sitting at a computer desk, what we have seen, through the lenses of Smartphones, media coverage, and daily newspapers, what we observed, as a student of anthropology, is written in this paper. According to the view of social anthropology, this type of equipment has been regarded as the ultimate essential technological device for investigating human behaviour in a pandemic situation. At the beginning of the essay, remember that if we go back to armchair anthropology before Malinowski, where anthropologists had collected data from travellers and other sources, in the present situation, data is collected from the newspaper, the Internet, research papers, webinars, and mobile phones from the opposite side of the devices-the participant may be a respondent. Therefore, the concept of a researcher, or else fieldworker, and respondent slightly has changed under this pandemic situation due to the social distancing or physical distancing. The present paper discusses these issues at an initial stage.
At the beginning of the article, a question is raised: what is the current state of the fieldwork methodology to be held under smart ethnography? This is an ethical issue of current anthropological research (Clark, Robb, Hammersley, & Flewitt, 2013). On this subject, is it possible for an anthropologist to do fieldwork in a society at this present time through participant observation? Even if the researcher has taken all types of protection, will the respondents accept them? That factor is the first challenge for a student of anthropology in this situation, and it is the threshold where social anthropology needs to be done today (Hayre & Hackett, 2020; Mills & Ratcliffe, 2012). The “rapport establishment” and permission of all sectors, such as government, administration, and medical authority, are necessary tools for researchers in anthropology in this pandemic situation to work hard in the field (Wilson, 2006). Only anthropologists detect the changes in human behaviour patterns during the pandemic. So, the necessary measures to be applied by the anthropologist to observe the new social behaviour in Society today (Lundström & Lundström, 2021; Scott Jones & Watt, 2010).
Based on introductory issues, it says that the importance of social anthropology has now been greatly increased in studying current society (Hammersley, 2006; Harris, Holman Jones, Faulkner, & Brook, 2017). It will be a great success for social anthropologists who have dedicated their lives to gathering data from people who are in a state of lockdown, social distancing, or physical distancing (Sam, 2021). Is it ethical in the light of anthropological consciousness? However, anthropological work must be done with the anthropologist maintaining that situation through the protection of human society through social distancing or physical distancing and lockdown.“Smart ethnography” most probably originated from that situation. Some anthropologists think that smart ethnography and visual anthropology are the same subject (Pink, Horst, et al., 2015; Pink, Leder Mackley, & Moroşanu, 2015). According to them, “Smart ethnography” is another term for visual anthropology. Visual anthropology is a separate subfield of anthropology and has nothing to do with smart ethnography.“Smart ethnography” is the result of the ethnographic problem (Fors, Bäckström, & Pink, 2013; Tutt & Pink, 2019). And it is a solution to social anthropological research-while the researcher and respondent would not be able to have close (first-hand contact) contact with each other. In that situation, social anthropological research may depend on smart ethnography (Palispis, 2007; Pink, 2013, 2015). But in this present paper, I would not desire to enlighten on this matter. In this commentary it has tried to write the human behaviour pattern that has existed at this moment through my eyes on my desk (Pink & Lewis, 2014; Westbrook, 2009).
The fundamental purpose of the article is to enlighten Smart Ethnography research and its correlation to Smart Ethnography from the concept of Visual Anthropology. This article has attempted to focus on how abrupt changes in behaviour patterns impact human society. The use of new language concerning COVID-19 and a bit of occupation shift have manifested intrinsically in this paper.
The methodology is, decisively, to the objective of the research, axis on it, or compiling an intellectual outline of how the overall-research strategy is adopted (Pink, 2020). The current paper or commentary does not include the typical research techniques or methods used in social science. The data was collected from various sources mentioned in the abstract section. Hence, it says that “content analysis” has been used. The “interview method”, the “observation method”, and several tools for collecting photographs, such as mobiles, phones, and computers, are essential for using the equipment in the present study. The paper is fascinated with secondary and qualitative data.
1. At first human behavior, the pattern has changed on their daily language level.
However, the changes have not been spread equally in all areas. It has allegedly occurred at different levels in different places. Supposedly, the people of an urban area of a country may or may not have known about this type of new language before the pandemic, but in the case of the people of the rural areas, most probably hadn’t. In places such as the region of West Bengal in India, where we have lived in semi-urban localities, most people were not aware of these new languages. They have now started to use the imported words from COVID-19. At the very beginning, the people of this locality did not understand the actual meaning of COVID- related medical terms. For example, the terms are as follows: quarantine, home quarantine, social distancing, sanitizing, COVID-19, Corona, buffer zone, lockdown, un-lock, and containment zone, etc. It has been seen that the people of this locality are very much interested in reading daily newspapers and watching TV news and are also accustomed to collecting knowledge of the outer world regarding the affections of Corona. That is a significant issue in social anthropology because it has changed the nature of humans’ mindset from inequality to equality (in the context of linguistics). People are more concerned about the death rate of COVID-19 and its effect on daily life. Next, they understood the contiguous spread power of COVID-19 along with its death rate. For this reason, in the beginning, people were not interested in accepting the medical suggestions for protecting the novel Corona virus.
Someday, it is observed that the people willingly maintain all medical instruction provided by the government, police, administration, and various social media to protect public health. Because the government, administrations, police, and news channels had previously failed due to people’s lack of knowledge about people infected with the corona virus. So, therefore, on hand, it is expressed that the and comprehending changes are as follows: 1) New language usages evolves regarding the COVID-19. 2) Reading and watching the daily newspaper and television, as well as various social media news sources 3) to comprehend all types of statistical analysis and models of COVID-19. The concepts of medical terms have entered into all sectors of society, and their cognitive level on these issues has grown so much that they can understand the esoteric meaning of all medical terms. This shift is a significant and positive step forward for Social Anthropology. It may be one of the remarkable changes in society under the light of social anthropology that have been detected in the present era.
2. Changes in self-health and hygiene are the second most relevant changes
Changes in self-health and hygiene are the second most relevant changes that have materialised or been seen in human life antecedently. Even today, people are concerned about their health along with family members, which has never been seen before. Every day, people are washing their hands with soap and sanitising as instructed by the government or department of the public health department. They take tea without sugar and milk three to four times every day. People in these localities drink hot drinking water at intervals of every three or four hours. The people in these localities drink that type of liquid, and they take it every day three to four times. The liqueur is made with pest zinger, cinnamon, and the dust of pepper; bay leaves are all mixed and boiled together for 20 to 30 minutes. Now the question is, how do I get that data because I am not in the field? One of my friends is a bank employee. Over the telephone during banking hours, they take such liquor for protection. And at the same time, all members of the family also took this liquor. As a result, the new types of liquid add variety to their daily lives with tea. A new habit is associated with human behaviour in these areas; wearing musk. Every person has tried to use the musk when they leave the house. There are only a cross people who intentionally do not use the musk. Most probably later, two or three days after people have washed their cloths and using musk.
Several local companies are “producing masks that are scientific or not”; that is not the main theme of the present paper. The main interest of the paper is to rise about out the awareness of the people regarding the use of musk in this pandemic situation. There are so many different colours of the masks that are chosen by the local inhabitants. It is also an interesting fact to note that the “art of mask-wearing”. Some people wear this under the lower lip and on the chin. They believe that wearing masks helped them speak smoothly. Somebody usually uses that for their breathing. It has been observed in the village or semi-urban town where women use the hem of the sari as a mask. So many varieties of musk wearing have been seen in this locality. Therefore, the habits which are admixing are as follows: (1) every time people wash their hands with soap, (2) people use sanitizer (3) Mask wearing (4) taking some medicines and (5) in taking per day three to four times taking tea and hot water and a specific type of herbal liquor.
3. The occupational pattern has changed slightly after lockdown. It is the third most changes have seen in society.
The different types of shops can be found on the platforms of the local railway stations in these areas. The shop keepers shift their occupations temporarily to earn their bread and butter after lockdown because railway services are closed. So, we have seen them in another job from our house. They have moved everywhere in the street or lanes to sell vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, etc. The local market and transport are also closed during the lockdown. The green vegetables, fish, and any other materials are sold in nearby areas because these green vegetables are not transportable elsewhere. Small or cottage industries have been affected. As a result, the economic conditions of the people in that class have been slightly cramped. And it brings unexpected their lifestyle changes.
All local trains, buses, and other vehicles are closed due to the lockdown. Therefore, no people or passengers are seen on the way. Only employees of emergency services leave their houses because the number of passengers drops steadily. Accordingly, the local van pullers and rickshaw pullers have engaged in other occupations or professions. Many of them have to sell temporary fish, butter, ghee (made from cow’s milk), and even flower garlands to the local residential areas. In this context, it is valuable to say that the inhabitants of this locality regularly offer wreaths to their Hindu deities and for so many other purposes. Before the lockdown, people usually collected these materials at the adjacent market. Now they get these at the front of their house. If it had been left in previous situations, many flower business-related workers or traders would have moved to the city and spread their business across the state. However, it is a fact that insufficient amounts result in a loss in their business because of this consequence. Besides, an abundant or sufficient quantity of production has not been possible to trade as well as before lockdown. As a result, a few flower traders are offered to such unemployed people to sell flowers in the local market. Reaching the nearest cities like Calcutta has not been easy under the current situation and the schedule timetable of the pandemic protocol of the government. These workers are accustomed to travel their trading place by personal vehicles like tempo, matador and small cars during the midnight at 2.00 am to 3.00 am and return next day at 2.00pm to 3.00pm. As a result, the time of trading has been changed. And periodic mango (Mangifera indica I) cultivation and production have unique leading small economic industries in this locality. Lots of workers are associated with this industry. Generally, ripe mangos have grown in two ways in this area. The first method is to pick green mangos from the tree and put them into a bamboo basket with a chemical reagent, and the second is to pick the ripe mango from the tree directly and sell it to the market. It has also been observed that such a temporary local market has emerged near mango orchards. A few mango workers are selling the mangos to the local town and nearby villages. It observes that some people sell sweets in the street, and that picture generally was not seen before the epidemic.
According to Covid-19, the protocol, and the lockdown, all educational institutions are closed; as a result, all education-related works have been conducted through an online system in school, college, and University. The form fill-up (before the examination process) of that educational institution happened in several cybercafés and Xerox centres privately. Such shopkeepers have earned as they expected, but in this period due to the lockdown, they do not open their business centre the whole day long because in this locality, category-wise, shops would be open as per the instructions of the state administration in the pandemic. For this instance, they slightly changed and shifted the commodity structure of the shop, which means they showed the shop not only for selling the educational items; it also sold tea, café for drinks, green vegetables, etc. At the same time, the student group also wants to get full facilities from those places. Therefore, we have seen the shops for educational articles have shifted as the source of tea shops or green vegetable shops. Some of them have extended their shops to include groceries. And this is a new type of shop or stall that has appeared in the pandemic. In this connection, the number of bookstall (Shops of books) also faces a similar problem. Some of them are currently thinking about shifting their business to another one because of the pandemic. People currently purchase online books and other commodities on a daily basis. Several types of important issues have been observed in this locality, although they have not been at a massive level. However, it is so important to bring in discussion in the light of social anthropology. During the lockdown, restaurants and other hotels are closed. A restaurant (Air-condition) has started to sell green vegetables. A popular newspaper in West Bengal has flashed the news that honey collectors in the Sundarbans are called ’Moule” (a Bengali word). Last year, the forest department of West Bengal had not permitted them to collect the honey from the mangrove forest. And this year, they offer the permission of honey collectors, but some conditions have applied. The team of honey collectors has a small number of five to six people. The members of that group must have skill, age, and experiences; others are not allowed.
In parallel, their socio-economic lives have changed. Due to social distancing or lockdown, most people start to live together in their homes with their families. In rural areas of this locality, interpersonal and active face-to-face relations are usually observed among the community. Due to lockdown, this chain of connectivity among the people has now been affected. They go to the nearby resident’s house; the neighbour also comes to tell them that typical behaviour is characterized by rural people, not urban. Though the present situation is in a local town or semi-urban town or village, the people are usually not going to their neighbours if their neighbours also do that. So, the rural people’s physical contact and communication density are duly affected by COVID-19. Family rituals at this moment do not worship. The relatives have not been invited to such programs. No duties and active participation of relatives have been looked at. Maybe it is observed, but not in its proper manner. Relatives are staying apart. The result is that the kinship behaviour pattern has now gradually changed. Kinship and its presence are being virtualized. A Whatsapp group has formed, and their relatives are making their kin relations and behaviour known. Photographs of the family and its ritual are sent through Whatsapp or any social media platform to relatives. There are so many changes that have been occurring in the lives of people in their daily behavior. Old people are bound to get the necessary training to use modern devices to communicate with each other. Corona-related rituals have now been observed elsewhere. Some newspapers in West Bengal have focused on this matter.
A recent marriage ceremony has finished in the residential area. My family and I were invited to this occasion, and we took part. At least 150 to 160 people were invited to the event; interestingly, most of the invitees were neighbors. In comparison, there were extremely small numbers of relatives. The invitees had determined to maintain the following COVID-19 protocol: Relatives would most likely be unable to attend the programme due to lockdown transpiration or they would prefer to avoid the crowd. The nearest residential relatives have enthusiastically joined the program. May be that’s why the neighbours who are not relatives have shared their hands in this event as a pseudo relative, and they perform different duties in every “function” of marriage. In this way, throughout the pandemic neighbors, people have played valuable ‘functions’ in several cultural institutions in this area.
4. in the fourth categorical changes have been seen in the educational sector.
The education system has been dependent upon the online process. From pre-primary to students of higher studies, they have been bound to take their education online in this pandemic situation. There is a problem in very remote sensing areas where the internet is not available. The students of this locality could not access education properly. The problem arises in the types of students who are the intrinsically first learners in society because their parents are not well trained to use the internet, smart phones, laptops, etc. That is why the availability of the internet system classifies society into two aspects. These are as follows: a) Society with Internet access and b) Society without internet access. In those areas where the internet is available, education is convenient in a pandemic situation. Without access to the internet, education is not usually attainable in the same way as in internet-accessible areas. Rare examples have found that some teachers and volunteers have been afforded the opportunity to serve education in the remotest localities on footpaths, free land while maintaining the rules of social distancing. It has been observed in some newspapers in our locality that children are not interested in teaching through an online system.
The former facts are running at this moment. The overall structural behaviour pattern has changed now. People have acclimatised to a new cultural behaviour system that is dependent on medicine rather than its traditional cultural continuum. A famous Bengali newspaper published a report on August 27, Port-blares, India; the Great Andamanese tribal population is now fifty strong in this locality. Out of fifty, there are ten tribal people affected by the coronavirus. Out of ten’ there are six cured, and the rest of the four are under treatment by government hospitals. From there on, a medical team reached Strait, Island and examined thirty-seven people, finding four people with Corona positivity. At the end of the commentary, it is said that social-cultural anthropology is very much in the chief interest of the researchers in anthropology. And both divisions of anthropology can play a tremendous role in scientific research or inquiry today.
Therefore, an anthropologist should be familiar with the present situation of society or that particular area and its people. The daily lifestyle in the current situation is so far removed from before the pandemic time. That is the crucial issue in anthropology to preserve its literature. Anthropologists pay attention to ascertaining how the people of the new profession and their family members adjust to the present condition of life. Anthropology is interested in searching for how those people who shifted their occupational pattern to another occupation, have willingly accepted the new style of life. That is a vital factor for them. They are distressed by the new situational life and their unhappiness. They hoped when COVID-19 left, they might be back to a comfortable life. Now they have eventually changed their eating habits, clothes, etc. Some social and cultural life patterns have now changed slightly. People stopped all types of social-cultural programmes in the massive, worshipping ritual type’s pin-drop change now seen. Therefore, in the pandemic, a new fabric of changing behaviour has been practiced in society. The new brand of society is temporary; it is true, although this record is chief and essential to the study of anthropology in time and space.
Clark, Alison, Robb, Martin, Hammersley, Martyn, & Flewitt, Rosie. (2013). Understanding research with children and young people. Understanding Research with Children and Young People, 1–328.
Fors, Vaike, Bäckström, Åsa, & Pink, Sarah. (2013). Multisensory emplaced learning: Resituating situated learning in a moving world. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 20(2), 170–183.
Hammersley, Martyn. (2006). Ethnography: problems and prospects. Ethnography and Education, 1(1), 3–14.
Harris, Anne M., Holman Jones, S., Faulkner, S., & Brook, E. (2017). Queering families, schooling publics. Routledge New York and London.
Hayre, Christopher M., & Hackett, Paul M. W. (2020). Introducing ethnography and its rationale for healthcare practitioner use. In Handbook of Ethnography in Healthcare Research (pp. 3–7). Routledge.
Lundström, Markus, & Lundström, Tomas Poletti. (2021). Podcast ethnography. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 24(3), 289–299.
Mills, David, & Ratcliffe, Richard. (2012). After method? Ethnography in the knowledge economy. Qualitative Research, 12(2), 147–164.
Palispis, Epitacio S. (2007). Introduction to Sociology and Anthropolgy’2007 Ed. Rex Bookstore, Inc.
Pink, Sarah. (2013). Engaging the senses in ethnographic practice: Implications and advances. The Senses and Society, 8(3), 261–267.
Pink, Sarah. (2015). Doing sensory ethnography. Sage.
Pink, Sarah. (2020). Doing visual ethnography. Doing Visual Ethnography, 1–304.
Pink, Sarah, Horst, Heather, Postill, John, Hjorth, Larissa, Lewis, Tania, & Tacchi, Jo. (2015). Digital ethnography: Principles and practice. Sage.
Pink, Sarah, Leder Mackley, Kerstin, & Moroşanu, Roxana. (2015). Researching in atmospheres: video and the ‘feel’of the mundane. Visual Communication, 14(3), 351–369.
Pink, Sarah, & Lewis, Tania. (2014). Making resilience: everyday affect and global affiliation in Australian Slow Cities. Cultural Geographies, 21(4), 695–710.
Sam, Steven. (2021). A Reflective Account of Particularising Ethnographic Principles and Practices for Doing ICT4D Research.
Scott Jones, Julie Ed, & Watt, Sal Ed. (2010). Ethnography in social science practice. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Tutt, Dylan, & Pink, Sarah. (2019). Refiguring global construction challenges through ethnography. Construction Management and Economics, Vol. 37, pp. 475–480. Taylor & Francis.
Westbrook, David A. (2009). Navigators of the Contemporary. In Navigators of the Contemporary. University of Chicago Press.
Wilson, Brian. (2006). Ethnography, the Internet, and youth culture: strategies for examining social resistance and" online-offline" Relationships. Canadian Journal of Education/Revue Canadienne de l’éducation, 307–328.