WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGYIn a nutshell, anthropology is the study of all that it means to be WHAT IS ETHNOGRAPHY?human and the cultural context within which we live. In essence, Both a methodology and a product of research, ethnography isanthropology answers the question: a grounded, inductive method, that heavily relies on participant- observation. These days, the term “ethnography” is used fairly loosely “What does it mean to be human?" and expectations and final outcomes vary as much as the people calling themselves ethnographers.Its the scientific study of humankind; from species origins throughdevelopment to modern day (including the mall, boardrooms, • It meets people where the action occursand offices). • It is inductive • It does not go into the field with answers runningAnthropology encompasses a holistic view of a person and • It is focused on systems, practices, and beliefstheir environment by blending sociology, linguistics, biology • Everything is dataand psychology into a more complete picture. As with all social • It is focused for business objectivessciences, it embraces an inductive approach to understanding • It is best done in teamsand starts from a cultural perspective. • It uses culture and shared knowledge as the center of investigationAnthropology is also “comparative” and “cross-cultural”.It is a comparative field in that it examines all societies, ancient andmodern; simple and complex. It systematically compares data fromdifferent populations and time periods. However, the other socialsciences tend to focus on a single society whereas anthropologyoffers a unique cross-cultural perspective by constantly comparingthe customs of one society with those of others.ANTHROPOLOGY & CULTUREEverything begins with culture.Culture is a set of shared, learned beliefs, values, norms, traditionsand taboos.Every purchase decision is made within the cultural context:• Geographic culture (Indian, American, NorCal, Silicon Valley)• Industry culture (engineers, product managers, nurses, taxi drivers)• Company culture (Microsoft, Yahoo, P&G, Harley Davidson)• Lifestyle culture (surfer, emo, techie, biker, neat-freak)• Religious culture (Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Atheist)
INDUCTIVE METHODS INDUCTIVE METHODSTHE INDUCTIVE APPROACH• Begins with specific things - observations or discussion with informants. Based on the accumulation of observation, you may want to build a THEORY general idea on that observation.• Inductive reasoning moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories.• Start with specific observations and measures, begin to detect INITIAL HYPOTHESIS patterns and regularities, formulate some tentative hypotheses that we can explore and finally develop conclusions or theories.• Inductive reasoning is more open-ended, holistic and exploratory, especially at the beginning.• Uncover the unexpected activities, intrusions, and interactions that ultimately impact decision making, use and performance.• Attempts to understand why, not simply what.• Attempts to understand the contexts (processes) in which people live PATTERNS and work. OBSERVATION
RESOURCE FLOWThe study of the complex issues around how resources are attained,used, repurposed and disposed of within a household or communityis called resource flow. In essence, it is a process by which people orcompanies catalog the purchase journey.Statistically, humans are alone only a small percentage of their lives.We exist in family units, social webs, neighborhoods, work structuresand other organizations. All resource input (salary, crops, materialgoods, other captial) will inevitably be filtered directly or indirectlyby multiple individuals, including pets. This is true even for those wholive alone, except in extreme cases. For ethnography in a businesscontext, you should rarely concept resource flow in a 1:1 ratio.• A good way to start is to ask an individual in the group to draw representations of those things in the home, office or community that bring in money or goods.• Next, have them do the same - but focus on those things that take out money or goods.• There will be debate about these representations from other members of the group (in public and in private).• The goal is to get people talking about how the process works and the factors influencing it.• Make sure to document observations and diagram the resource flow.• Try to keep any and all participants actively engaged through discussion and cooperative diagraming. Its okay to hand your informant your pen and paper.
SOCIAL NETWORKS SOCIAL NETWORKSWhen conducting fieldwork, it is imperative that you document, The old adage "no man is an island" and "nobody lives in adiagram and explore a subject or groups social web. This knowledge vacuum" are true. We live in a complex network of relationships andwill help you discover motivating or influential factors; negotiated communities that shape our worldview, behavior and influence ourself-images, relationships, resource flow and the foundation for daily behavior.structural/functional behavior. A social network is the socio-cultural group made up of individuals or institutions called "nodes." These are connected by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as profession, title, kinship, common interest, dislike, etc. They can also be constructed around relationships of beliefs, knowledge or power. Social webs help illustrate the multivariate roles people play across a range of socio-cultural strata. Simply put, knowing a targets social network is the gateway to ethnographic insight. Remember, in a social network: • Subjects and their actions are viewed as interdependent rather than independent or autonomous units • Relational ties (linkages) between subjects are channels for resource flow (either material or nonmaterial) • Network models focusing on individuals view the network structural environment as providing opportunities for or constraints on individual action • Network models conceptualize structure (social, economic, political and so forth) as lasting patterns of relations among subjects
RECIPROCITYReciprocity is how we define the informal exchange of goods, laborand even ideas. Since virtually all humans live in some kind of societyand interact with others, reciprocity is fundamental to the nature of allcultures.Knowing and diagraming reciprocity allows the researcher to explorethe transfer of resources (resource flow) and the give-and-take of linksin a social network. There are three types of reciprocity:• Generalized reciprocity: The same as virtually uninhibited sharing or giving. It occurs when one person shares goods or labor with another person without expecting anything in return. What makes this interaction "reciprocal" is the sense of satisfaction the giver feels and the social closeness that the gift fosters. Between people who engage in generalized reciprocity, there is a maximum amount of trust and a minimum amount of social distance.• Balanced or Symmetrical reciprocity: Occurs when someone gives to someone else, expecting a fair and tangible return at some undefined future date. It is a very informal system of exchange. The expectation that the giver will be repaid is based on trust and social consequences; that is, a "mooch" who accepts gifts and favors without ever giving himself will find it harder and harder to obtain those favors. Balanced reciprocity involves a moderate amount of trust and social distance.• Negative reciprocity: Includes what economists call barter. A person gives goods or labor and expects to be repaid immediately with some other goods or labor of the same value. Negative reciprocity can involve a minimum amount of trust and a maximum social distance - it can take place among strangers.
GENDER, CLASS & POWER Gender, Class and Power can’t be overlooked when doing fieldwork. While these are often topics we avoid in our society, they are part of the cultural landscape and have to be considered when capturing data. Power can vary from hegemony, perceived as legitimate, to the threat of violence. Class is the relation to the means of production, especially the right of direct access to the fruits of production. Gender is best understood as the relations between men and women. The three together constitute the fundamental social, economic, cultural and political relations that determine any social system or network. When taking in a setting and taking notes consider the following: • What roles do men and women play in the context? • How are communities divided along economic lines? • How important are racial and ethnic distinctions for the group and how is this expressed? • How is power exercised within the group? • How do these considerations shape both the research plan and the final design of a product, service or message?
DOCUMENTATION Capturing everything in the field can be a daunting task. But there areEXPRESSION ATTENTION some basic tips that will help make the process smoother: • Write notes as soon as possible to avoid information being lost. • Capture major themes and broad ideas within 24 hours and share them with your team. • Write down all personal details about the setting (number of people,POSTURE HANDS location, use of space, gender dynamics, product use, etc.). • Note direct quotes as well as your impressions. • Note moments that produced changes in the context of discussion. - A change in story setting, topic or temporal shift. • Note moments that produced emotional responses.FEET OTHER • Note or draw expressions, body language, and non-verbal communication. Remember, the camcorder is only one of the tools you bring to the field. Field guides, notebooks, sketchpads and cameras are all part of the toolkit, but more importantly, so are you.
THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW WHY THE INTERVIEW? NON-VERBAL PROMPTS The interview is where you will receive a large percentage of your What you do and how you interact with your subject(s) is just as information on subjects or groups. The ability to conduct a successful important as what you say. Body-language and signage by your and insightful interview will determine the depth of information you will subject(s) is also important. Make sure to pay attention to the detials be able to collect and the and the validity of that information. even if youre making notes. Remember: KEEP IN MIND: • Remove coat (coats and objects are interpreted as barriers). • Reading off a line of questions will create a barrier between the • Mind that your notes or camera are not directly between you and researcher and the subject as well as produce a stale wooden the subject. rapport. • Maneuver subject(s) into a seated position not facing an immediate • Ask open-ended questions rather than simple yes/no queries. Don’t point of egress. lead the subject. • The subject should feel secure, but not enclosed. • Questions should be clear and phrased in contextually intelligible and appropriate language. • Be aware of your body language and inflection. • It’s an interview, not an interrogation. Establish a rapport. • Be observant of the body language, gesture-calls, posture, eye movement etc. of the subject(s). • Get to know the subject(s). Ask them questions about the house, family, life, etc. It’s important for them to trust the relationship and to • Silence is your friend. be open. • Nodding but not saying anything will produce silence, which •Add depth with follow-up questions. the subject will often try to fill by continuing deeper into a line of explanation or discovery. • Have the subject actively demonstrate their points if possible. - “My truck makes a sound.” = Get in the truck and check it out
THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW QUESTION CATEGORIES PROBE DEEPER Self-Philosophy - How do they treat the brand/product? Is it a commodity? Is it used to - Ask the applicant about how they feel or think about a particular satisfy the subject or is it being purchased for someone else? topic/product. - Examine how a change of perspective could or would change the - Are there any inherent biases? Are these linked to socio-economic direction of future actions. status, ethnicity, religion, region, sex, age or gender? Leading - How does the category play into daily life or social sphere? - Asks general questions that motivate the subject to elaborate more on the current line of questioning or on a specific topic. - What emotions or feelings are directly associated with the specific brand/product? Cultural Framework - Ask questions about how the applicant believes other people in his/ her situation would feel. Context - Asksabout past situations involving the topic of conversation, and GENERAL INTERVIEW OUTLINE asking how the situation occurred. - Describe setting/location. Establish rapport - Log time/date Mapping Transition to a broad category-oriented line of questioning - Diagram - mentally or on paper - how people, places or things regarding the topic are connected Transition to brand/product specific line of questioning Focus conversation Thank subject(s) and distribute incentive
THINGS TO LOOK FORNORMS MEANINGCultural norms guide good marketing, design, and development. People have to make sense of the world around them and assignFor example, cultures shape how people understand what is “food.” meaning to their shared lives.While it is seen as strange to eat bugs in the West, they are a majorsource of protein in many parts of the world. Rituals, morality, cosmology, even how we choose to clean our teeth are all endowed with meaning. For example, knowing that you wearUncovering how people internalize these cultural norms gives us insight black to a funeral stems from associations we have between that colorinto what “makes sense” and allows us to design brands that will and death.resonate rather than confuse or offend. • How do people define cleanliness?• What do people wear in a given context? • How do people pray?• How do people greet each other when meeting for the first time? Ethnography uncovers not only the meaning people assign to thePROCESSES world, but how that meaning comes about.How people get things done is another significant point of investigation WHAT PEOPLE SAY vs. WHAT PEOPLE DOfor an ethnographer. It shows us how cultural roles, beliefs about whatis correct, and the order in which events take place shape interaction It isn’t enough to ask people questions, because what they say andwith place, and tool or a brand. what they do aren’t always the same.• What rituals accompany preparing dinner? Look for what is going on in the physical space, look for body• How do people find their way in a retail environment? language, and look for interactions between people.Note all the steps in any activity described by the subject(s). • People may call themselves “green,” but what do they drive? • Do people have a “tell” when asked a question? Look for contradictions and make sure to ask people to demonstrate what they say.
THINGS TO LOOK FORHOW PEOPLE SOLVE PROBLEMS ROLES PEOPLE ASSUMELook for ways people adapt things to solve problems in unusual How does behavior change in a given context? What sort of things areways. For example, using stickers on cell phones to “tag” what socially unacceptable in a given context? You should look for changesbelongs to them. and roles people seem to adopt in a given setting. Systems of hierarchy and power are typically a visually obvious example.• Look for the tools people use to accomplish tasks. • How do people react when they have to leave something behind?• Look for work-arounds people develop to manage and control • How do people take turns when talking? their environment. • How does body language change between people?HOW PEOPLE ORGANIZE Try to uncover the social and cultural roles people are playing.How people organize things can tell you a lot about how theyunderstand and manage their world. Ask people to explain how PEOPLES "STUFF"they conceptualize things and how they relate to each other. What kinds of “stuff” people have with them can signal what it is they• How do people organize their refrigerator? see as important.• Where do people store their "important" papers? • What do people carry with them? • What do they wear? • How does the setting change this?
ETHNOGRAPHIC METHODS HOUSE KEEPING INTERVIEW • Get permission before you start filming, sketching or taking pictures. • Remember that you are talking, not interrogating. Listen long • Make sure your equipment is working properly. enough to put your participant at ease and feel like he/she is • If working in teams, assign roles and determine expectations for being heard. each team member. • Be focused enough to get useful information, but general enough • Determine who you want to talk to and why you want to talk with that the participant can guide the conversation into unexpected them. areas. • Ask open-ended questions, do not use a script, and be willing to CAPTURING DATA ask naïve or obvious questions. • The key is remembering that the participant is the expert, not you. • While it sounds daunting, try to capture everything you see, hear, smell, taste and feel. • Use video, photos, notes, maps and sketches. Include details about family, friends, food and environment. • Include details about emotional responses as well as your own feelings (uncovering personal biases will help improve analysis in the long run). • Be sure to get your thoughts recorded as soon as possible after leaving the field. OBSERVATION • Observe reality, not just what people want to show you. • While observing, look for adaptations and inventions, body language, events that change behavior, social hierarchies, things people care about, anything you see as irrational or surprising. • Engage in what you are observing. It is through action that many of the best questions and observation occur.
WHAT NOW?Setting Objectives Domains, Variables and FactorsFieldwork always produces vast amounts of interesting data. Its what The next step is to start to articulate the broad topics (domains),you do with that data that makes a difference. variables within domains and specific factors that create variables. It is a little like molecular biology. Atoms combine to make molecules,The first step after leaving the field is to set objectives and end results for molecules combine to make compounds.the insights. Uncovering insights and making sense of behavior is similar toThis means defining: uncovering layers and linkages that build to form an organism.• Budgets Things to Consider Before You Dive In• Time frames• Innovation vs. improvements Where and how will your idea be used by the consumer?• Back and front end needs • Are they an adult? A nine-year old? A soldier?Cultural Practices Understanding the context of use and users should direct where the product will be used.Above the waterline, • Is it in the car? On a laptop? In the backyard? In a retailAspects of culture that are explicit, visible, taught. environment?At the waterline What functions your product must fulfill?The area where implicit understandings become talked about,explained. Culturally Is it about your product or something bigger?Below the waterline Design for how people live, not what they tell you.“Hidden" culture: the habits, assumptions, understandings, values,judgments. The things we know but do not or cannot articulate. Technically- “Irrational” behavior is perfectly rational to the person doing it. What are the elements of that task in a real life setting? What are people doing now to make do?
WHAT NOW?What are the barriers? • Facilitator assists groups in refining 3 ideas to solve the problem.• Define cultural barriers. • Groups will evaluate ideas and develop rough prototypes of ideas.• Define cost barriers.• Define platform barriers. • Tools: Pluses, Potentials, Concerns and Overcoming.• Define biological barriers. • Who, What, When, Why, How – focus on what it will take to implement.All of this comes down to understanding the context and culturalprocess of the user, shopper or consumer.What Now: Nuts and BoltsNow that you have categorized data, brainstorm as many possibleinsights as possible.• Select the 5 key insights and write on post-its. - Post on easel, whiteboard or wall. - Cluster insights into similar categories. - Vote down to 5-7 key insights on which to focus.• Break into “action groups.”• Groups will generate long list of potential solutions.• Brainstorming Tools: Write It, Say It, Post It; Brain Writing; Forced Connections• Evaluate and converge on 3 ideas.• Decision Tools: Cluster; Dot Voting/Silent Vote
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