Ethnography

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Ethnography
Ethnography
 Ethnography is the study of social interactions, behaviours, and perceptions that
occur within groups, teams, organisations, and communities.
 The central aim of ethnography is to provide rich, holistic insights into people’s
views and actions, as well as the nature (that is, sights, sounds) of the location
they inhabit, through the collection of detailed observations and interviews.
 The task [of ethnographers] is to document the culture, the perspectives and
practices, of the people in these settings. The aim is to ‘get inside’ the way each
group of people sees the world.
 From Greek word ethnos = folk/people and graphien = writing
Characteristics of Ethnographic Research
 CONTEXTUAL
➢ The research is carried out in the context in which the subjects normally live
and work
 UNOBSTRUSIVE
➢ The research avoids manipulating phenomena under investigation
 LONGITUDINAL
➢ The research is relatively long
Characteristics of Ethnographic Research
 COLLABORATIVE
➢ The research involves the participation of stakeholders other than the
researcher.
 INTERPRETATIVE
➢ The researcher carries out interpretative analyses of the data
 ORGANIC
➢ There is interaction between questions/hypotheses and data
collection/interpretation
Methodology
Outline of Process
1.
2.
3.
4.
Identifying problem or topic of interest
Fieldwork – Data collection and analysis
Analysis – Holistic
Report (Fetterman, 1998)
Methodology
Field work / Ethnographic Data Collection
1. Direct Observation
 data is gathered primarily
through close visual
inspection of natural
setting
 “Hawthorne Effect”
Methodology
Field work / Ethnographic Data Collection
1. Participant Observation
 Trying to gain the insiders’
perspective, and stepping aside
to reflect as an outsider
 Trying to be a “methodological
stranger”
 Gaining access to the field
Methodology
Field work / Ethnographic Data Collection
2. Interviewing
 Directly asking questions
to the members
Methodology
Analysis
 Evaluating relevance
 Looking for patterns
 Considering phenomena through the cultural perspective
 “Thick description” (Morse and Richards, 2002)
 Classifications, parameters, etic observations
 Maps, drawings, charts (Fetterman, 1998)
Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages:
o In-depth understanding of a culture amongst a group of people (detailed
and more likely valid interpretations)
o Gives a voice to a culture to express their views, which might not
otherwise be heard
o Influential in creating an understanding among outsiders
o Also may reveal embedded cultural values that were not obvious to the
group
 Particularly appropriate to behaviors that are best understood by
observing them within their natural settings.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Disadvantages:
 Cumbersome and time-consuming, and can be expensive
 Possibility that researcher is changing the natural way a culture
behaves by being present
 Not really able to generalize findings
 Difficulty of reconciling constructive engagement with critical
reflection
 No numerical data provided leads to checking of validity of the
researcher’s conclusions.
 Variables and relationships are hard to define due to research usually
beginning without and hypothesis.
Sample of an Ethnographic Study
“The permeable institution: An ethnographic study of three acute
psychiatric wards in London”
By
Alan Quirk, Paul Lelliott and Clive Seale
Published in 2006
What is the Study About?
This paper examines the issue of permeability to the outside world
from within a modern psychiatric world. It involves interviews with
patients, patient advocates and staff on 3 psychiatric wards.
Sample of an Ethnographic Study
Class and Gender in the Philippines: Ethnographic
Interviews with Female Employer-Female Domestic Dyads
By
Emelda Tabao Driscoll
What is the Study About?
 an ethnographic analysis of the relationship between female employers and
female domestics in the Philippines focusing on how it maintains and reproduces
the intersecting class and gender relations of power that brought the two women
together.
 The analysis reveals the existence of 4 types of female employer-female domestic
relationships. The dynamics of dependency, fictive kinship, proprietarity, and
deference
Sample of an Ethnographic Study
Ifugao Culture: Ethnographic Research
Essays, UK. (November 2013). Ifugao Culture: Ethnographic Research.
Retrieved from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/anthropology/sample-ethnographic-project.php?vref=1
What is the Study About?
o Name of culture
o Where is your culture located?
o Language
o Settlements
o Houses
o Making a Living
o Political System
o Kinship, marriage, religion, etc.
Ethical Concerns
 Ethnographic data expose “informants”
 Are second hand data reliable?
 Imposition of a moral judgment on local people by the researcherInformed
consent
 Privacy
 Harm
 exploitation
Methodology
Fieldwork Methods
 Selection and sampling
 Participant observation
 Participant’s classification
 Outcropping
 Interviewing
 Autobiographical interviewing
 Existing documented information
 Proxemics and kinesics
 Folktales
 Questionnaires
 Projective techniques
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