Monthly Archives: November 2015

无人认领的生活

前几天经历了一场风波。是这样的,因为交流学习的成绩单还未寄到,所以严格意义上我还没有毕业。但硕士项目催着要本科毕业证。赶不上期限,申请可能就得重头来过。

发现这滑稽的事实后,我权衡了一下,还是轻描淡写地告诉了我妈。伊大惊,继而悲愤地说:“你要是不能毕业,待在家里,叫我怎么去跟别人说呢?你快去找个工作吧。”

我也很羞愧。“张华考上了北京大学;李萍进了中等技术学校;我在百货公司当售货员”:故事就要成真了吗?未来的一年,同窗的LinkedIn上风云变幻的时候,我得像孤魂野鬼一样待字闺中,考试、写文书、递成绩、读书、不温不火地写点文章。用我妈的话概括,就是“浪费青春”。

我可能还是会读读写写,但一切都将变得没有名分。某A要去斯坦福读书了,她将努力学习;某B要去摩根斯坦利工作了,她将努力加班。而我的“努力”背后,将没有一个金光灿灿的“属于”。我不是名校骄子,也不是金融才俊,我甚至不是百货公司的售货员:没有人,没有任何人,来认领我的时间。

太可怕了,简直是真人秀版“时间都被狗吃了”。我觉得很对不起我妈。本来嘛已经转到一个鸟不拉屎的专业,学校嘛牌子也不是很亮,最后居然还待业在家。那天我妈看我的眼神仿佛金正恩看到奥巴马或者方舟子看到韩寒。好在最后学校愉快地表示可以宽限,加之她逼我误食了几块固若金汤的排骨,我妈才对我高抬贵手。

这件事让我思索,我们乐此不疲的生活里,有哪些奔走,仅仅是为了一个更光鲜的“属于”?比方说那个哥伦比亚大学的政治学博士,会不会其实只想在夜总会里偷偷唱歌?比方说那个阴差阳错去了四大的眼镜男,会不会其实只想写些卖不出去的情诗?但是歌手和诗人这种不三不四的职业,不仅不能向别人交待,甚至不能向自己交待。好听点儿叫自由创作人,难听点儿叫无业游民,时髦点儿叫卢瑟尔。名字绚丽有什么用,请问你属于哪个单位呢?

显然,不是所有奔走都能和某些“属于”达成和解。有些“属于”高贵冷艳,比方说某学校,某公司,某市某环某小区。追求这样的“属于”很辛苦,需要衣带渐宽终不悔,需要独上高楼望尽天涯路,需要一沓水泄不通的日程表,和一种“我的心在等待永远在等待”的偏执。最糟糕的是这些“属于”永远供不应求,引无数英雄竞折腰。

于是另一些“属于”应运而生了,首当其冲的是爱情。“改变他人很难,改变自己更难,剩下的只有改变他人和自己的关系了。”朋友圈里成绩最好的那位同学转过一篇文章,大意是“爱情是庸人的避难所”,仿佛有了陪伴,所有的软弱都变得大言不惭。昨天和明天之间支离破碎的生活里,终于塞上了一块吸满情绪的海绵。

当然,对于我这样的普通青年来说,爱情有时亦来之不易。好在还有各式各样的集体。比如说A的春江花月夜,或者B的红泥小火炉,比如说一群白校服的广播操,和另一群粉棉袄的广场舞。比如说普度众生的党,和“这盛世如你所愿”的国家。漂泊异乡的时候,如果能和热血青年们同看阅兵,将是多么有安全感的一种体验。

甚至,如果连集体都没法追求,没关系,我们还可以属于远方。作为“属于”的宾语,“远方”简直温顺得叫人心疼。它既可以是毛里求斯,也可以是香格里拉,如果有钱的话,还可以是爱斯基摩。它既可以是一架单反,也可以是一只吉他。我想《麦田里的守望者》中的霍尔顿如果出走到二十一世纪,就不要去美国西部了,不如来大理开个客栈好了。此人反正神神叨叨,典型的中产阶级开始厌恶自己,就成了波西米亚。

倒霉的是,毕不了业的我,一时间也找不到心仪的“属于”。于是剩下的,一个孤独,骄傲,清醒的我,看着自己这无人认领的生活。啊,明明有那么多形形色色的属于,意气风发的属于,海誓山盟的属于,舍我其谁的属于,鼻青脸肿的属于。

王小波先生说,“人的一切痛苦,本质上都是对自己无能的愤怒”。然而痛苦可能还要更无解一些。也许,赤条条的生命,注定无法给自己找一个属于。你看那么多无人认领的属于,那么多一意孤行的寻找。明明白白地写着,我们对存在本身的恐惧,和孤零零的存在的荒谬。

//暑假闲时的一篇旧文。现在我倒是顺利毕业了,转头看看,年轻人怎么能这样放纵自己的清醒呢?

A Note on ethnographical methodology

The two essays by Burawoy (1991) and Lichterman (2002) shed light on a puzzle I long have: how on earth do qualitative researchers generate theory from their data? Burawoy and Lichterman both answer this methodological questions with a binding of grounded theory (coined by Glaser and Strauss) and extended case method. Researchers using the former method will engage in constant comparison to build generalizable new theory, while those using the second will examine anomaly cases to restructure existing theory.

According to Burawoy, grounded theory and extended case method are two suitable methodological responses to two criticism of participate observation. Namely, that participate observation face both the problem of generalisation and macro-micro link, because of it focus on particular cases and micro interactions. Before justify the two methods mentioned above, Burawoy first disputes another two responses to these criticisms, ethnomethodology and interpretive case method. These two both deny the criticism by nature. Ethnomethodology says macro structures do not exist beyond a hodgepodge of socially constructed understandings of micro level interactions. Thus, generalisation is unnecessary, because there is no “objective” reality shared by all members of human society. Macro-micro link is also unnecessary because of the same reason. Interpretive case method, on the contrary, says that micro world is nothing but the hermeneutic interpretation of the macro. Thus, there is no need for generalisation or build micro-macro link because the micro is by itself already part of the coherent macro. An example is Geerz’s classical study of cockfight in Baliese, in which he claims Baliese men who engage in cockfight are reading and living Baliese culture out.

So how do extended case method and grounded theory answer the two criticisms differently? According to Burawoy it is by comparison. Grounded theory constantly compare particular cases to other particular cases, code concepts and categories that emerge from field notes, and ardently pursue generalizable theories. Note here it represses the specificity of cases, and look for similarities between them. It differs from ethnomethodology in the sense that the former use discourse as resources for generalisation, while the latter grant merit to interpret the discourse itself.

Extended case method compare cases to existing generable theories. It look for abnormal cases that theory cannot explain, and reconceptualize existing theories to improve them. In other words, abnormal cases do not do any generalisation by themselves. The burden to justify such generalisation lay in existing theories.

Litcherman agrees on most of Burawoy’s point and only parts when he mentions extended case method and grounded theory both bear merits and can be used together. The ideal working routine, accoridng to Burawoy as cited in Litcherman, is to

  1. Go into the field with written expectations of what will happen in the field. If you already have theory, that’s better. Just take it with you.
  2. Take field notes industrially from the beginning on.
  3. Start compare field notes to expectations (theory) immediately after the first field session.
  4. Reconceptualize the concepts – here is extended case method working.
  5. Compare the first field notes also with later notes to see if new concepts emerges – here is grounded theory working.

Cheris also mentioned a mix of both methods during her class. Basically, I would say the most important here is comparison. Comparison solves both the problem of generalisation by seeing common variables in particular cases, and the problem of micro-macro by shifting the burden to existing theories. Considering my own research, I should first of all find an empirical puzzle, then find theories to explain it as well as see if I can construct new concepts from my field data. But honestly, the biggest problem I have for now, is that I do not have a puzzle.

Reference

  • Burawoy 1991, The extended case method, in Ethnography Unbound. University of California Press.
    (Might also be similar to Burawoy 1998 – I haven’t read this paper but here is a link for future reference – http://burawoy.berkeley.edu/Methodology/ECM.ST.pdf)
  • Litcherman 2002, Seeing structure happen, Methods of social movement research. University of Minnesota Press.