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I'm writing a paper for my cultural psychology course. The paper is about Japanese child care, focused on the moral and cognitive development of Japanese children from their own traditional/cultural perspective. It is mostly an archival research on Japanese culture which I am supposed to write up and present as a realist ethnography.

  1. Is there any place online where I can conduct an interview with Japanese people who reside in Japan and are familiar with their own culture.
  2. How can I identify actions, activities, and goals of the culture in order to construct a meaning system so as to understand and interpret the relationship between the actors (culture), tools (e.g., appraisal of the child's actions), activities, scripts, and goals?
  3. Do you have any tips on how to write an ethnography?
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Futureshrink, thanks for the edits but unfortunately question one and three appear to be off topic here. There is a Japanse language stackexchange where you could ask around (in the chat preferably). Regarding the tips, that is rather opinion based and may result in an overflow of answers and discussions. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer May 4 '17 at 5:29
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD As you mentioned, there is no section for anthropology nor is there one for cultural psychology(not cross-cultural) and qualitative research methods such as ethnography. But as it has a psychological component I thought it could relate. The paper I'm working on is about Japanese child care, more emphasis placed on the moral and cognitive development of Japanese children from their own traditional/cultural perspective. Please feel free to revert the edit and answer those questions (hoping RobinKramer is ok with it). I would very much like to see your answers. $\endgroup$ – future.shrink May 5 '17 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ @RobinKramer thank you, I appreciate it. Here's an example; certain cultures (actors) use praise (tool) as a form of reward for a child's good behavior aiming to cultivate certain useful skills like self motivation/self promotion that allows the child to survive in an individualistic competitive society (goal). Where as others withhold such expressions for fear of enticing conceit. The later may be from a collectivist society where group harmony is more valued. So the actor uses tool and acts to get goal. This is keeping in mind the idea of co-construction as every agent is an active agent. $\endgroup$ – future.shrink May 5 '17 at 10:10
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    $\begingroup$ My problem here is pinpointing some activities and understanding some of their goals. Like for instance, why is the expression of negative emotions discouraged in a Japanese society? What do mothers do to cultivate their child's cognitive development? Do they encourage verbal communication, eye contact, exploration, etc... Do they breastfeed? How long and why that long? How do they discipline their child? With what objective? Etc... I hope this clears it up and I apologize for any ambiguity on my part but it's all new to me. $\endgroup$ – future.shrink May 5 '17 at 10:16
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD A meaning system is making sense of the goals, strategies and scripts followed by the members of a certain culture. As in the interpretation I made in the above example. Understanding and interpreting the relationship between the actors, tools, activities, scripts, and goals. $\endgroup$ – future.shrink May 5 '17 at 17:10
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First off - this question is really broad and its scope could probably fill libraries. I will therefore limit the answer to generalized pointers in answer to your three sub questions.

Is there any place online where I can conduct an interview with Japanese people who reside in Japan and are familiar with their own culture.

Culture is a difficult concept. What I can say here is that every Japanese person is aware of their culture, because every Japanese is a part of their culture. Japanese culture is created by the Japanese inhabitants; it's what shapes them, it is the very air they breath. Conducting interviews is something that needs to be established and anthropologists often dive into the community of interest and spend considerable amounts of time to familiarize themselves with the culture, build a network and go from there. Understanding people, let alone their culture is not something that can be done easily from behind your computer screen I'm afraid.

How can I identify actions, activities, and goals of the culture in order to construct a meaning system so as to understand and interpret the relationship between the actors (culture), tools (e.g., appraisal of the child's actions), activities, scripts, and goals?

The first step is to develop a specific research question and subsequently operationalize it. I am reading diverse questions and here's just an excerpt from your comments:

...pinpointing some activities and understanding some of their goals. [...] Why is the expression of negative emotions discouraged in a Japanese society? What do mothers do to cultivate their child's cognitive development? Do they encourage verbal communication, eye contact, exploration, etc... Do they breastfeed? How long and why that long? How do they discipline their child?

You seem to be struggling with a lot of questions lacking the necessary research focus. Especially an undergrad study should be meticulously defined and most of all restricted to make it operable in the short time window available.

Do you have any tips on how to write an ethnography?

Libraries are filled on this topic. I can refer you to Clifford & Marcus, 1986.

Reference
- Clifford & Marcus, Writing Culture. The poetics and politics of ethnography. UC Press (1986)

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  • $\begingroup$ AliceD thanks I appreciate the effort and time you put into this. Yes, I realize anthropologists emerse themselves into a certain society but it's not my field and as I pointed out, its mostly an archival research. I wanted to interview a few people so they could explain or confirm certain things and some of my interpretations. Also I realize Japanese people live and breath Japan but there are certain people who have been so influenced by another culture that they have lost touch with their own. Thanks again for your assistance. $\endgroup$ – future.shrink May 5 '17 at 20:33

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