Discussion #2 – Where are you from? Applying Ethnographic Research & Data Analysis to your Neighborhood.


Spend some time gathering information on your neighborhood/community. Go to the factfinder census website below and type in your zip code 90046. This will prompt a great deal of information on your community. Write down some general information on your community, employment data, education, housing, population (race, age, etc.). The point here is to gain an in-depth understanding of “where you’re from”. After compiling data on your neighborhood, compare your neighborhood to the richest zip code in LA (90210) and the poorest (90044).

Census Factfinder:


Other resources:

Los Angeles County:

Orange County:

See Orange County “Facts and Figures”


Go to the LA Times “Mapping LA” interactive website. Find your neighborhood and compare to different regions in around LA. Look for examples of poor, working-class, middle-class, and upper class areas. If you are not from LA County, still examine the website and compare different parts of Long Beach with various other neighborhoods around LA County. What do you see? How does inequality divide the County of Los Angeles?



Take a walk around your neighborhood and utilize the ethnographic research method. For this part of the discussion assignment, you will walk around and take notes. Really look for patterns in your neighborhood.

Below, are some areas you might want to focus on:

Jot down notes or short answers to the questions below, these questions will serve as your neighborhood ethnography.

Homes – Are they kept up with fresh paint? Any broken windows or bars on windows? What do the yards look like, do they have manicured yards/lawns? Absence of yards? Do the homes have chain-link fences? Are the houses old or new, large or small? Is there more apartments or houses? Are there abandoned houses? Are there vacant lots? Are there trailers/mobile homes? Public housing? Gated community?
People – Take a note on who you see in your neighborhood; what race predominates; are there certain people who are in your neighborhood just to do work, but do not live there? What language do you hear people speaking? Are there people walking around and interacting? If so, what are they doing? Are there a lot of young people out? Are there any visible homeless people? People on the street? If so, who are they, what are they doing? Potential gang activity? Street drug dealers? Prostitution? Do any of these scenarios change depending on the time of day you are looking at your neighborhood?
Pets – What do people do with their pets in your neighborhood? Are pets being used as security or companionship? Any strays in the neighborhood?
Noise – What sounds do you hear? Is it loud or quiet? Be quiet and listen carefully to what sounds are going on, this can give you important information on your neighborhood? Do any of these scenarios change depending on the time of day you are looking at your neighborhood?
Police – Do you see any police cars? If so, what are they doing? What type of security is used by residents in your neighborhood (gated community, bars on windows, dogs, etc)? Do any of these scenarios change depending on the time of day you are looking at your neighborhood? Generally speaking, do you think people in your neighborhood have a good or bad, or mixed relationship with the police?
Environment – Is there any type green open space in your neighborhood? Any natural hills or wildlife areas? Are there trees that line the streets or “greenbelts”? Any parks in your neighborhood? If so, what kind of activity is going on at the park? Is there a lot of trash on the ground, or is it clean?
Cars – What kind of cars are in your neighborhood? Are they old or new? Fancy or expensive? Abandoned cars? What is the condition of the cars? Are there monster trucks? Lowriders? Bus stops?


Write a thoughtful, in-depth, post to the discussion forum in light of the questions below. Your post should be a minimum of 300 words (you can always write more). I suggest you write out your posts first in Word, so you can edit it for grammar, spelling, etc.

Your post should be a detailed sociological overview of where you are from. This exercise, draws upon a multitude of “research methods”, in order to demonstrate the importance of data. The challenge here is to think sociologically. I want you to combine both the information you found on the census page, the LA Times website, etc., along with your own ethnographic field notes to inform your analysis. That is, we often assume we “make it” or fail to make it solely on “individual” talent or “luck”. This is not sociological. Sociologists argue that neighborhoods can deeply structure one’s life chances in moving up or down the class structure. What are the challenges/privileges you have due to the area you live? Think about where you come from and how this has shaped who you are.

You should thoughtfully engage at least two of your peers’ posts. Your goal is to create dialogue. Dialogue is more than simply stating “I agree” or “Good point.” Be specific, and put in an effort to build dialogue and conversation.

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