Further to my remarks on the illusion of “becoming at one with the masses”, I’m always struck by the irony of hanging out with Chinese peasants whose whole life-experience and world-view are totally different from my own. That’s commonly the kind of thing that ethnographers do, of course.
“Stranger value” would be most unlikely to butter any parsnips if a middle-aged English academic were to descend on a bunch of Newcastle punks (cf. my post on vocabulary). They would quite rightly tell me to get lost—although possibly not in those precise words. Chinese peasants are more hospitable.