What is ethnography? Sam Ladner, PhD Consultant and Principal
What is Ethnography?
What is ethnography?
Types of observations
Overt vs. covert Ethical issues
Corporate ethnography case studies
Nokia Novo Nordisk Intel Prada Famous Ethnographies
What is ethnography? Ethno = culture; graphy = writing A method, a product Immersive Extended period of time Often focused on a particular culture
Observing Ethnographic skill No. 1 Denver, CO: Scooters in local supermarket: represents shoppers’ need to avoid walking while shopping Toronto, Ontario: Intentional manipulation of corporate logo: symbolizes resistance.
Interviewing Ethnographic Skill No. 2 Or in a “foreign” culture Can happen in a workplace “culture”
Overt versus covert Types of observation Overt Covert Ethnographer informs participants of their study and is transparent about research. Ethnography does not inform participants of the study and must balance ethical issue of deception.
Ethical implications Informed consent Protection of privacy Harm to participants Deception
Great ethnographies Crestwood Heights, John Seeley: classic study of what is now known to be Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood All of Our Kin: Carol Stack’s nuanced study of African American women’s intertwined lives Street Corner Society: William Foote Whyte’s “Chicago school” of urban ethnography Learning to Labour: Paul Willis’s study of working class British boys becoming working class men
Gaining access to closed sites Open Communities Malls Raves Closed Firms Schools Hospitals Need permission and introductions from a gatekeeper No permission required, but must be accepted by the group. Go through gatekeepers.
Case studies Corporate Ethnography Researched how consumers in developing countries deal with diabetes. Uncovered unmet needs in diabetes treatment Ethnography in Asia and Africa lead to “image only” cell phone design with long battery life Employs 24 full-time ethnographers to research computer use in the home, at work, and in the mobile space
Case Study: Prada shopping Corporate Ethnography Embedded RFID tags in clothes so shoppers can easily find complete outfits Created frosted glass doors for changing rooms that turn to windows at the touch of a button Mirrors have a 5-second delay allowing shoppers to see the view from behind