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Fieldwork Interpretation (Coursework Sample)

The study adopted an ethnography approach with various communications active in the speech community. Various facework, speech acts, cultural terms for talk, address terms, norms and rules, narrative, and relational dialectics that give meaning to the communication practiced by participants were also observed. Such were evident in the manner in which the participants described the ritual. source..
Fieldwork Interpretation Student Name Institutional Affiliation Fieldwork Interpretation In the last three months, I have been involved in conducting research on the importance of the Passover Seder among North American Jews. I chose the study because the Passover Seder is one of the most beloved and celebrated home rituals among Jews. Many Jews cherish the times they spent together during the Seder rituals. The Jews feel the obligation of telling the story of the Exodus since its happening many years ago. The ritual draws its meaning from the bible in Exodus 13:8, which is received as a command among the Jews. They believe that the biblical verse requires everyone to take up the role of ensuring that the story of their Exodus is passed across different generations. I was interested in learning various aspects of the event such as the rituals involved, practices, and the beliefs that informed the Seder within the community. The study adopted an ethnography approach with various communications active in the speech community. Various facework, speech acts, cultural terms for talk, address terms, norms and rules, narrative, and relational dialectics that give meaning to the communication practiced by participants were also observed. Such were evident in the manner in which the participants described the ritual. Facework Framework implies transitioning from one’s self to the image that they represent to society for leadership or communicative purposes. The concept entails presenting a dignified image that helps one in gaining authority (Katriel & Philipsen, 1981). During the study, various participants were involved. One of them claimed that they were the leader. The first respondent that was involved dressed and spoke in such a manner to cement their position as the community leader. The respondent insisted that the dressing of the leader is also crucial to the ritual. He mentioned that the Seder takes place while everyone is in a reclining position. From the study, it was established that the respondents found the symbolism of this as that the slaves took their last meal hurriedly. I also learnt that the ritual plays a crucial role in uniting the members of the community because the poor and the rich mix freely on the eve of the Passover. During the ritual, most families place pillows on chairs. The ritual leader had a special white robe that commands authority in the community, and he wore it during the interview. He mentioned that the white robe gives him authority in the community. His wearing the robe also meant that he was acting in the capacity of the community leader and not an ordinary member. Therefore, the dressing and the command with which the respondent spoke created the image of a leader with immense authority. Speech acts Speech act serve their purpose after they have been communicated or said. They include ordering, apologizing, complaining, refusing, congratulating, and inviting (Wilkins, 2016). During the study, the third participant explained that the spatial design of the place of the ritual is unique. The Seder table prepared contains various items, among them used as reminders of direct or indirect sacrifice. He showed a great understanding of the subject, noting that they include the shankbone (zroah), a scorched egg (beyztah), and they are further salted as quoted in Leviticus 2:13. The table also has bitter herbs and parsley (karpas) and hyssop leaves where the blood of the lamb was spread as quoted in Exodus 12:22. Therefore, the setting of the table is a crucial aspect of this ritual, and it is explicitly based on scriptural texts since the ritual itself is based on the Jewish belief of the Exodus. Notably, this setting is mainly done in houses and not in sacred places. The Jews celebrate the ritual indoors so as to coincide with the Passover night during the Exodus. Additionally, the setup is designed to indicate that they were in a hurry, and this means that it is not done to perfection. According to the Exodus story, the Israelites commemorated the Passover Feast in a hurry and ate bitter herbs, explaining why there are bitter herbs on the Seder table. Therefore, such speech acts helped in showing the community’s understanding and value of the ritual to the community. Cultural terms for talk The fifth and seventh respondents argued used various terms used in reference to the ritual and how such terms are used within the community. The findings showed that the ritual adheres to a set script that outlines the order of events and practices that they undergo (Poutiainen & Gerlander, 2009). For instance, the Ten Plagues are recited during the ritual. The people further chant Dayenu (translating to “it would have been enough”) to remember the different gifts that the people received on the day of the Passover and hence remind them of the mercy and grace of God. Such contents are all aimed at reminding the people about the Passover and the great gift that they received from God. The ritualized speech by the chief celebrant also leads people in praising God for his mercies and grace and for rescuing them. Such cultural terms helped in understanding the audience involved in the ritual and roles they played. Address terms It was also clear that there were terms that are used in describing the various aspects of the ritual. For instance, the study revealed that the ritual also has an interesting iconography of set of symbols and images. There are various symbols that normally appear during the celebration of the Seder. However, the center of focus is the setting of the entire Seder plate and its contents. The plate contains shank bone that is roasted, and this is symbolic of the Pesach sacrifice that was offered in the Temple. Therefore, such address terms helped in further understanding the ritual and its components, as well as the different terms describing aspects of the ritual. Additionally, it was established that the address terms are only used in the context of the community and their meaning is tied to the beliefs of the community. Individuals who are not members of the community could end up failing to understand the intended meaning of the terms. Norms and rules The celebration of the ritual is considered among the norms and values of the community, as described by Fitch (1994). The second respondent explained that some of the unique behaviors during the Feast include the recitation of the Ten Plagues. During the rituals, the people dip their fingers in their win and then drop it on their plate. This behavior has two main explanations. First, they commemorate how the priests offered sacrifices by dipping their finger in the blood to be offered and sprayed it towards the ark for seven times as in Leviticus 4:6. Second, it is an aspect of the Safed community which aimed at reestablishing the ancient aspects of Judaism such as the Sanhedrin, Temple sacrifice, and ordination of rabbis. Therefore, the dipping of a finger in wine and placing it on the plate reenacts the sacrificial behavior of their ancient priests thus connects the ritual to the old Jewish practices. As such, the respondent explained that these acts are part of the norm related to the event, hence further enhancing understanding of the norms and values that surround the Seder at the community. The eighth respondent mentioned that the ritual represents norms and values that conform to the larger society. At the end of the Seder, the participants say ‘next year in Jerusalem’. This is important to the larger society as it shows their aspiration to return to their Jewish homeland. The North American Jews have different opinions and feelings towards Jerusalem, and they have complex attitudes t...
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