Bookstore Cafe Ethnographic Observation

1160 words 5 pages

Over the past few years, commercial spaces have become areas for multifunction activities. Along with the availability of gourmet coffee, food, ample seating, and free WIFI bookstore cafes have welcomed a clientele that blends leisure, social and work related activities. In this context, a local popular Barnes and Noble bookstore cafe served as the perfect environment to perform a field observation for this assignment and to explore customer behaviors and reasons for patronizing this particular establishment. Nestled in a busy Shopping Center on the east side of a traffic jammed Central Avenue, in Westchester County, Barnes and Noble bookstore is surrounded by a movie
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Second, tables were occupied on a first come basis and, it was up to customers arriving later to initiate ‘table sharing‘ requests if they wished to sit and remain there for a while”. Table sharing seemed to be a common practice at this café. I watched a middle aged woman carrying a winter coat, handbag and a cup of coffee approached an elderly man sitting in front me, placed her bag on the floor and coffee on the table, deployed the man’s jacket from the seat in front of him, then asked if she could sit in the unoccupied seat. The man nodded affirmatively by quickly taking ownership of his jacket and placing it on his lap as the lady sat in front of him. They did not talk and the woman left after finishing her drink. I wondered for a while if this couple were together. Grabbing a stranger’s personal items before politely asking permission to occupy a chair in a public setting seemed odd and unusual. After examining my field notes, the issue of reflexivity came to mind. Babbie (2012, pg. 310-312) discusses about reflexivity as the capacity of the observer to acknowledge how past experiences, emotions, can affect the interpretation and results. Reflexive awareness involved a little more than the notion of the type of ‘baggage’ being brought to this observation. Regardless of the fact that I was a participant observer, familiarity with the space most