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An example of an ethnographic research proposal in the discipline of Environmental Anthropology.

An Ethnography of Wildlife Carers: A Research Proposal In The Discipline of Environmental Anthropology

Research Proposal:

This research question can be separated into two broad sections: one dealing with the relationship between animal and carer, and secondly the relationship between other people and the carer in consideration of the rescue work they do. Firstly volunteer wildlife carers and their relationship with the animals they care for, and issues of rehabilitation and euthanasia. The relationship between the carer and the animal involves decisions about which animals are considered to be in need of care and protection. For example, the distinction between native vs introduced, and native endangered species population vs prolific populations of native and domestic species. The issues of rehabilitation and euthanasia will be examined especially in regard to governmental and authority figures. Finally, the emotional attachment the carer has to the animal they are caring for, and what this attachment entails. Lastly, the public perception of wildlife carers will be examined, and what value the public places, if any, on the work wildlife carers perform. Within the community distinct groups that are affected by the work volunteer wildlife carers do, such as hunting groups and landowners near rehabilitation release sites, will be sought out.

Methods Section:

My methods will involve a combination of participant observation work, and semi-structured ethnographic interviews with volunteer wildlife carers, government authority figures in charge of monitoring volunteer wildlife carers and their work, members of the community in which the carers work and reside, and specific groups within the community that have direct interactions with wildlife carers.

Volunteer Wildlife Carer:

I will begin by completing some participant observation work with a Native Wildlife group, which will result in a snowball effect with individual carers, who will then be the subject of more participant-observation work, supplemented by semi-structured ethnographic interviews.

Government Authority Figures:

Similarly semi-structured interviews and participant observation with governmental authority figures who interact with, and monitor wildlife carers. Participant observation with carers and governmental authority figures will involve, with permission, documentation by film; either video or camera.

Community:

A focus group of community members who have interaction with wildlife carers, such as hunting groups and owners of land near rehabilitation release sites will be established; however, if this proves unsuccessful, individual semi-structured ethnographic interviews will be used. Semi structured interviews will also be conducted with people who contact wildlife carers about injured animals.

Possible Ethical Dilemmas:

There are two possible major ethical dilemmas, both involving sensitivity of information. Firstly, when discussing rehabilitation and euthanasia issues with both carers and governmental authority figures, some of the information could include actions by both the carer and authority figures that are considered illegal. The only way to overcome this dilemma is to establish a good rapport with my interviewees, and constantly assure them of their confidentiality. Furthermore some community members may feel that the opinions and attitudes they have about wildlife carers may not be acceptable by other people and may feel hesitant about sharing them. This will hopefully be overcome by having both focus groups and semi-structured, individual ethnographic interviews, as well as establishing rapport with participants


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