Ethnographic Journal Assignment


Social workers have an ethical responsibility to challenge social injustice and oppression. Hence, it is important for social workers to i) keenly observe and be aware of social injustice/oppression issues and ii) critically reflect on those issues. This is a crucial step in making social changes.

The purpose of this assignment is to help students enhance their understandings of (in)social justice and oppression through making careful observations of their intact surroundings and critically appraising the dynamics and consequences of (in)social justice/oppression.

Knowledge/ Skills

Students are expected to gain the following knowledge/skills by completing this assignment.

Enhanced and/or in-depth understandings of oppression toward various groups of population in our society

Critical thinking abilities in applying course materials to (a) real-life situations/experiences Abilities and skills to express ideas coherently and concisely in writing


Throughout the semester, you are invited to carefully observe the natural surroundings that you interact with on a daily basis regarding oppression toward a certain group of people. Your observations must be “current.” In other words, your journal should be based on your recent observations/experiences, such as what happened less than a week or two from the day of your assignment submission.

Some examples of your surroundings can be your own community, neighborhood, groups of people, the media, local and state policies, rules, regulations, volunteer/worksites, and so on. In this pandemic, expand your surroundings beyond physical environments, including social contexts and interactions happening on Zoom meetings, webinars, social media, etc.

If your observation is based on media sources (e.g. news articles, reports, and TV) rather than actual observation or conversations that you directly experienced, you MUST integrate the following: 1) have discussed the issue presented in the media with another/other person(s); and

2) incorporate your reflections on your interactions with other people regarding the topic in the paper.

As you observe your surroundings, focus, and critically reflect on the following questions.

What did you observe? (Also describe the setting such as the place, date, approximate time, atmosphere, etc. where your observation happened).

In what ways does your observation relate to the discussion of oppression and (in)justice What contributes to the (various forms of) oppression you observed?

How might the oppression you identified affect individuals and society?

If you observed positive aspects related to eradicating oppressive views and behaviors, you can also talk about those.

What did you feel and think from the observation?

Write a journal based on the above reflections. The ethnographic journal should be in an essay format. You must critically apply at least two elements from the course materials in your writing. One of the elements should come from the textbook chapter 6 or chapter 7, or Dr. Choi’s lecture. Some examples of these elements can be concepts, terminologies, theories/perspectives, facts, and policies.

Appropriate citations and a reference list are required.

Length & Format: Approximately 700-750 words in the format of single-spaced, Times New Roman, font size 12pt, and 1-inch margin on all sides of the paper.

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