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Compiled by,
Rupa Gupta
Research Scholar,
Regional Institute
of Education,
(NCERT),
Bhubaneswar
 Meaning and Definition
 Purpose of Ethnographic
Research
 Characteristics of Ethnographic
Research
 Use of Ethnography
 Methodology of Ethnographic
Research
 Steps Involved in Ethnographic
Research Method
 Other Methods of Ethnography
 Skills required for Ethnographic
Studies
 Do’s and Don’ts Do’s
 Advantages & Shortcomings
Meaning and Definition
• Ethnography is a Social science research method. It is
primary data collection method. It is mainly combined with
social background. A qualitative approach that studies the
cultural patterns and perspectives of participants in their
natural setting.
• Ethnography came from the Greek, it identifies its roots in
sociology and anthropology.
*Ethnos = People
*Graphing = Writing
• “Ethnography literally means ‘a portrait of a people’.
Ethnography is a written description of a particular culture,
the custom, belief and behaviour based on information
collected through field work.” (Harris and Johnson 2000).
• Ethnography is the study of social interactions,
behaviour and perceptions that occur within
organisations team communities and Groups.
• Hammersley (1985) the task is to document the culture
the perspective of practices of the people in the settings
the aim is to get inside the way each group of people
sees the world.
• Creswell (1998) explained that the ethnography study
looks at people in interaction in ordinary settings and
attempts to discern pervasive patterns such as life cycle,
events, and cultural themes.
Purpose of Ethnographic Research
• The main purpose of ethnography is to obtain a deep
understanding of people and their culture.
• One distinguishing feature is fieldwork.
• In ethnographic research, the context is what defines the
situation and makes it what it is.
Characteristics of Ethnographic Research
According to Hammersley and Sanders, ethnography is characterized by the
following features:
• People's behaviour is studied in everyday contexts.
• It is conducted in a natural setting.
• Its goal is more likely to be exploratory rather than evaluative.
• It is aimed at discovering the local person’s or “native’s” point of view,
wherein, the native may be a consumer or an end-user.
• Data are gathered from a wide range of sources, but observation and/or
relatively informal conversations are usually the principal ones.
• The approach to data collection is unstructured in that it does not involve
following through a predetermined detailed plan set up at the beginning of
the study nor does it determine the categories that will be used for analyzing
and interpreting the soft data obtained. This does not mean that the research
is unsystematic. It simply means that initially the data are collected as raw
form and a wide amount as feasible.
Use of Ethnography
Ethnography is primarily used in the following instances:
• While searching for the meanings of cultural norms and views.
• In trying to understand the reasons for the use of certain behavior or
practices.
• For examining social trends and instances like divorce, illness, migration.
• For examining social interactions and encounters.
• To understand the roles of families and organizations and their behavior.
• To identify new patterns and gain new insights into social phenomenon.
• To understand the hygiene and sanitation practices of communities.
• To observe the types of punishment given to children at school.
• To study the behaviour of workers in an organization.
Methodology of Ethnographic Research
1. Objectivity:
 In ethnographic study, being objective is important. Here objectivity means that one
must look at the culture in its own terms and not push once on actuality or
judgements upon it.
2. Interviews:
 To learn from people what has been believed, how they think and how that affect the
life interviewing is an efficient method.
3. Participant Observation:
 In participant observation, the researcher is connected to the basics of human
experiences, participates in their activities, to know how and why of human
behaviour in a particular context and gains a deep knowledge about the intricacies
and inner workings through immersion.
4. Survey:
 The demographic information is obtained through survey. Surveys are used to get
beliefs and views without providing specific direction to the person being surveyed.
Own sentiments should not be introduced into a survey.
Steps Involved in Ethnographic Research Method:
• Spardley (1980) indentified the sequence of steps
making up the methodology of ethnographic research.
1. Selecting an Ethnographic Project
2. Asking Ethnographic Questions
3. Collecting Ethnographic Data
4. Making an Ethnographic Record
5. Analyzing Ethnographic Data
6. Writing the Ethnography
7. The Ethnographic Report
1. Selecting an Ethnographic Project:
• The scope of project can vary greatly, from studying a whole complex society
to a single social situation.
• So, that it can be completed in reasonable time. A social institution always has
three components – a place, actors, and activities.
2. Asking Ethnographic Questions:
• The ethnographer needs to have questions in mind that will guide what the
researchers sees and hears and the collection of data.
3. Collecting Ethnographic Data:
• The researcher does field work to find out the activities of the people, the
physical characteristics of the situation and what it feels like to be part of the
situation.
• The step generally begins with an overview comprising broad descriptive
observations.
• Then after looking at the data, one can move on to more focused
observations. Here, the researcher can use participant observation, in-depth
interviews and so on to gather data.
4. Making an Ethnographic Record:
• This step includes taking field notes, photographs, making maps and, using any
other appropriate means to record the observations.
5. Analyzing Ethnographic Data:
• The field work is always followed by data analysis, which leads to new questions
and new hypothesis more data collection and field notes and more analysis.
• The cycle continues until the project is completed.
6. Writing the Ethnography:
• The ethnographic report should be written so that the culture or group is brought to
life, making readers feel they understand that people and the way of life.
7. Ethnographic Report:
• The ethnographic report can range in length from several pages to a volume or two.
• One can greatly simplify this task by beginning the writing early as data
accumulated instead waiting until the end.
• The writing task will also be easier if, before writing one read other well-written
ethnographies.
Other Methods of Ethnography:
• Macro-ethnography is the study of broadly-defined cultural
groupings, such as “the Indians”.
• Micro-ethnography is the study of narrowly-defined cultural
groupings, such as “young working class women” or “Members of a
political party.”
• Emic perspective is the ethnographic research approach to the way
the members of the given culture perceive their world. The emic
perspective is usually the main focus of ethnography.
• Etic perspective is the ethnographic research approach to the way
non-members (outsiders) perceive and interpret behaviours and
phenomena associated with a given culture.
Skills required for Ethnographic Studies
Ethnographic studies require wide range of skills. These can be briefly
listed as follows:
• High degree of interpretative agility is required to understand the
wide range of issues and facts involved in the study.
• The researcher needs to be unbiased and unprejudiced in order for the
study to draw valid and reliable conclusions.
• The researcher needs to be familiar with the social settings and needs
to have a high degree of intellectuality and diplomacy.
• The researcher needs to possess good interactional and inter-personal
skills.
• The researcher needs to be sensitive towards the culture, values and
norms of the social setting in which the study is being conducted.
Do’s and Don’ts Do’s:
Do’s
• Have an open mind, free of any kinds of prejudice or biasness.
• Participate as much as you can in the interactions.
• Keep a simple stature so that the people feel comfortable and act naturally.
• An ethnographer needs to be able to differentiate between interesting and actionable
findings.
• A prior study and understanding of the group and the environment is vital for a good
ethnographic study.
• Good understanding of social science theory, research methods and research design is
important for conducting ethnographic studies.
• Think about what you are going to ask beforehand and get familiar with the questions.
• During an interview try to put your respondents at ease and choose a setting where
your interviewee will feel safe and comfortable.
• Do figure beforehand how the observations are to be recorded.
• Conduct the study in a relaxed and stress free mood.
• Always keep in mind to respect the ethics and norms of the group under the study.
Don’ts Do’s
• Do not interrupt and simply observe.
• Never put pressure on the study subjects.
• Do not offend the culture, values and norms of the
group under study.
• Do not over dress and keep your actions limited.
• Never distort the facts to meet the research aim.
• Never go unprepared and without prior understanding
of the group.
• Never cross the ethical boundaries to conduct the
research.
Advantages
• It provides extensive and in-depth findings about human
behaviour.
• It can evolve and explore new enquiry.
• It provides opportunities to study in-depth a variety of cultural
aspects of present-day human population and their ways of life.
• It allows to utilize the range of unique methods like focus
groups, participant observation, interviews, and direct field
observations.
• It offers researcher rich and through commentary on human
behaviour, culture and society as whole.
• Participant observation gives opportunities to collect observed
insights into social practices which are usually concealed.
Shortcomings
• In ethnography, there is a chance of researcher bias.
• It deals most solely with qualitative data.
• Statistics and numbers are replaced with recorded statements
of individuals and the observations of the researcher.
• To provide an accurate and legitimate conclusion the
researcher must visit the place several times.
• The unpredictable occurrences are common sense it occurs
in uncontrolled environment.
• It is nonreplicable as the human behaviour can be influenced
by numerous variables at any given moment.
• The results can’t be generalized to other time periods or to
other cultures due to its specificity.
Ethnography

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Ethnography

  • 1. Compiled by, Rupa Gupta Research Scholar, Regional Institute of Education, (NCERT), Bhubaneswar
  • 2.  Meaning and Definition  Purpose of Ethnographic Research  Characteristics of Ethnographic Research  Use of Ethnography  Methodology of Ethnographic Research  Steps Involved in Ethnographic Research Method  Other Methods of Ethnography  Skills required for Ethnographic Studies  Do’s and Don’ts Do’s  Advantages & Shortcomings
  • 3. Meaning and Definition • Ethnography is a Social science research method. It is primary data collection method. It is mainly combined with social background. A qualitative approach that studies the cultural patterns and perspectives of participants in their natural setting. • Ethnography came from the Greek, it identifies its roots in sociology and anthropology. *Ethnos = People *Graphing = Writing • “Ethnography literally means ‘a portrait of a people’. Ethnography is a written description of a particular culture, the custom, belief and behaviour based on information collected through field work.” (Harris and Johnson 2000).
  • 4. • Ethnography is the study of social interactions, behaviour and perceptions that occur within organisations team communities and Groups. • Hammersley (1985) the task is to document the culture the perspective of practices of the people in the settings the aim is to get inside the way each group of people sees the world. • Creswell (1998) explained that the ethnography study looks at people in interaction in ordinary settings and attempts to discern pervasive patterns such as life cycle, events, and cultural themes.
  • 5. Purpose of Ethnographic Research • The main purpose of ethnography is to obtain a deep understanding of people and their culture. • One distinguishing feature is fieldwork. • In ethnographic research, the context is what defines the situation and makes it what it is.
  • 6. Characteristics of Ethnographic Research According to Hammersley and Sanders, ethnography is characterized by the following features: • People's behaviour is studied in everyday contexts. • It is conducted in a natural setting. • Its goal is more likely to be exploratory rather than evaluative. • It is aimed at discovering the local person’s or “native’s” point of view, wherein, the native may be a consumer or an end-user. • Data are gathered from a wide range of sources, but observation and/or relatively informal conversations are usually the principal ones. • The approach to data collection is unstructured in that it does not involve following through a predetermined detailed plan set up at the beginning of the study nor does it determine the categories that will be used for analyzing and interpreting the soft data obtained. This does not mean that the research is unsystematic. It simply means that initially the data are collected as raw form and a wide amount as feasible.
  • 7. Use of Ethnography Ethnography is primarily used in the following instances: • While searching for the meanings of cultural norms and views. • In trying to understand the reasons for the use of certain behavior or practices. • For examining social trends and instances like divorce, illness, migration. • For examining social interactions and encounters. • To understand the roles of families and organizations and their behavior. • To identify new patterns and gain new insights into social phenomenon. • To understand the hygiene and sanitation practices of communities. • To observe the types of punishment given to children at school. • To study the behaviour of workers in an organization.
  • 8. Methodology of Ethnographic Research 1. Objectivity:  In ethnographic study, being objective is important. Here objectivity means that one must look at the culture in its own terms and not push once on actuality or judgements upon it. 2. Interviews:  To learn from people what has been believed, how they think and how that affect the life interviewing is an efficient method. 3. Participant Observation:  In participant observation, the researcher is connected to the basics of human experiences, participates in their activities, to know how and why of human behaviour in a particular context and gains a deep knowledge about the intricacies and inner workings through immersion. 4. Survey:  The demographic information is obtained through survey. Surveys are used to get beliefs and views without providing specific direction to the person being surveyed. Own sentiments should not be introduced into a survey.
  • 9. Steps Involved in Ethnographic Research Method: • Spardley (1980) indentified the sequence of steps making up the methodology of ethnographic research. 1. Selecting an Ethnographic Project 2. Asking Ethnographic Questions 3. Collecting Ethnographic Data 4. Making an Ethnographic Record 5. Analyzing Ethnographic Data 6. Writing the Ethnography 7. The Ethnographic Report
  • 10. 1. Selecting an Ethnographic Project: • The scope of project can vary greatly, from studying a whole complex society to a single social situation. • So, that it can be completed in reasonable time. A social institution always has three components – a place, actors, and activities. 2. Asking Ethnographic Questions: • The ethnographer needs to have questions in mind that will guide what the researchers sees and hears and the collection of data. 3. Collecting Ethnographic Data: • The researcher does field work to find out the activities of the people, the physical characteristics of the situation and what it feels like to be part of the situation. • The step generally begins with an overview comprising broad descriptive observations. • Then after looking at the data, one can move on to more focused observations. Here, the researcher can use participant observation, in-depth interviews and so on to gather data.
  • 11. 4. Making an Ethnographic Record: • This step includes taking field notes, photographs, making maps and, using any other appropriate means to record the observations. 5. Analyzing Ethnographic Data: • The field work is always followed by data analysis, which leads to new questions and new hypothesis more data collection and field notes and more analysis. • The cycle continues until the project is completed. 6. Writing the Ethnography: • The ethnographic report should be written so that the culture or group is brought to life, making readers feel they understand that people and the way of life. 7. Ethnographic Report: • The ethnographic report can range in length from several pages to a volume or two. • One can greatly simplify this task by beginning the writing early as data accumulated instead waiting until the end. • The writing task will also be easier if, before writing one read other well-written ethnographies.
  • 12. Other Methods of Ethnography: • Macro-ethnography is the study of broadly-defined cultural groupings, such as “the Indians”. • Micro-ethnography is the study of narrowly-defined cultural groupings, such as “young working class women” or “Members of a political party.” • Emic perspective is the ethnographic research approach to the way the members of the given culture perceive their world. The emic perspective is usually the main focus of ethnography. • Etic perspective is the ethnographic research approach to the way non-members (outsiders) perceive and interpret behaviours and phenomena associated with a given culture.
  • 13. Skills required for Ethnographic Studies Ethnographic studies require wide range of skills. These can be briefly listed as follows: • High degree of interpretative agility is required to understand the wide range of issues and facts involved in the study. • The researcher needs to be unbiased and unprejudiced in order for the study to draw valid and reliable conclusions. • The researcher needs to be familiar with the social settings and needs to have a high degree of intellectuality and diplomacy. • The researcher needs to possess good interactional and inter-personal skills. • The researcher needs to be sensitive towards the culture, values and norms of the social setting in which the study is being conducted.
  • 14. Do’s and Don’ts Do’s: Do’s • Have an open mind, free of any kinds of prejudice or biasness. • Participate as much as you can in the interactions. • Keep a simple stature so that the people feel comfortable and act naturally. • An ethnographer needs to be able to differentiate between interesting and actionable findings. • A prior study and understanding of the group and the environment is vital for a good ethnographic study. • Good understanding of social science theory, research methods and research design is important for conducting ethnographic studies. • Think about what you are going to ask beforehand and get familiar with the questions. • During an interview try to put your respondents at ease and choose a setting where your interviewee will feel safe and comfortable. • Do figure beforehand how the observations are to be recorded. • Conduct the study in a relaxed and stress free mood. • Always keep in mind to respect the ethics and norms of the group under the study.
  • 15. Don’ts Do’s • Do not interrupt and simply observe. • Never put pressure on the study subjects. • Do not offend the culture, values and norms of the group under study. • Do not over dress and keep your actions limited. • Never distort the facts to meet the research aim. • Never go unprepared and without prior understanding of the group. • Never cross the ethical boundaries to conduct the research.
  • 16. Advantages • It provides extensive and in-depth findings about human behaviour. • It can evolve and explore new enquiry. • It provides opportunities to study in-depth a variety of cultural aspects of present-day human population and their ways of life. • It allows to utilize the range of unique methods like focus groups, participant observation, interviews, and direct field observations. • It offers researcher rich and through commentary on human behaviour, culture and society as whole. • Participant observation gives opportunities to collect observed insights into social practices which are usually concealed.
  • 17. Shortcomings • In ethnography, there is a chance of researcher bias. • It deals most solely with qualitative data. • Statistics and numbers are replaced with recorded statements of individuals and the observations of the researcher. • To provide an accurate and legitimate conclusion the researcher must visit the place several times. • The unpredictable occurrences are common sense it occurs in uncontrolled environment. • It is nonreplicable as the human behaviour can be influenced by numerous variables at any given moment. • The results can’t be generalized to other time periods or to other cultures due to its specificity.