It is a research method that is used by sociologists often when studying groups, organizations, and communities that are a part of a larger complex society, such as religious cults, ethnic neighborhoods, or urban gangs. Traditionally, ethnographies have focused in depth on a bounded and definable group of people; such as the Nuer, or a particular North Indian village.
Today, they are just as likely to focus on a particular aspect of contemporary social life; such as new reproductive technologies, the meanings of the veil, virtual communication, or being a Milwall football club fan. The concept of ethnography has been developed within social anthropology; but the term is now sometimes used in a looser way in for example opinion and market research. Journal of Socialomics Open Access. While ethnographers usually have a preference, they also have to be flexible about their level of participation.
For example, access to the community might depend upon engaging in certain activities, or there might be certain practices in which outsiders cannot participate. See an example. An important consideration for ethnographers is the question of access. The difficulty of gaining access to the setting of a particular ethnography varies greatly:.
For example, if you had the idea of observing the staff within a particular finance company but could not get permission, you might look into other companies of the same kind as alternatives. Ethnography is a sensitive research method, and it may take multiple attempts to find a feasible approach. All ethnographies involve the use of informants.
This might be someone in a high position at an organization allowing you access to their employees, or a member of a community sponsoring your entry into that community and giving advice on how to fit in. However, i f you come to rely too much on a single informant, you may be influenced by their perspective on the community, which might be unrepresentative of the group as a whole. In addition, an informant may not provide the kind of spontaneous information which is most useful to ethnographers, instead trying to show what they believe you want to see.
The core of ethnography is observation of the group from the inside. Field notes are taken to record these observations while immersed in the setting; they form the basis of the final written ethnography. They are usually written by hand, but other solutions such as voice recordings can be useful alternatives. Field notes record any and all important data: phenomena observed, conversations had, preliminary analysis.
Field notes should be as detailed and clear as possible. This entails going through the field notes and formulating a convincing account of the behaviors and dynamics observed. An ethnography can take many different forms: It may be an article, a thesis, or an entire book, for example.
Ethnographies often do not follow the standard structure of a scientific paper, though like most academic texts, they should have an introduction and conclusion. For example, this paper begins by describing the historical background of the research, then focuses on various themes in turn before concluding. An ethnography may still use a more traditional structure, however, especially when used in combination with other research methods. For example, this paper follows the standard structure for empirical research: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.
The goal of a written ethnography is to provide a rich, authoritative account of the social setting in which you were embedded—to convince the reader that your observations and interpretations are representative of reality. Ethnography tends to take a less impersonal approach than other research methods.
Due to the embedded nature of the work, an ethnography often necessarily involves discussion of your personal experiences and feelings during the research. Ethnography is not limited to making observations; it also attempts to explain the phenomena observed in a structured, narrative way. For this, you may draw on theory, but also on your direct experience and intuitions, which may well contradict the assumptions that you brought into the research. Have a language expert improve your writing.
Check your paper for plagiarism in 10 minutes. Do the check. Generate your APA citations for free! APA Citation Generator. Home Knowledge Base Methodology A guide to ethnography. A guide to ethnography Published on March 13, by Jack Caulfield. Receive feedback on language, structure and layout Professional editors proofread and edit your paper by focusing on: Academic style Vague sentences Grammar Style consistency See an example.
Is this article helpful? He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time. Other students also liked. An introduction to qualitative research Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data to understand concepts, opinions or experiences. How to do a case study A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject in its real-world context. It can focus on a person, group, event or organization.
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