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Ethnography Home

Recent times have seen fading away of the interest in the method of participant observation while more general strategy of ethnography has evolved. This form of study has much relevance in the field of social sciences, especially when the researcher is delving into the cultural background and history of people. The team of Dissertation India helps you prepare the correct questionnaires, guide you with what aspects should be given more importance, and help you decipher the observations to present them in the right format in your research paper. It is a complex work, and taking help from a team which is dedicated and concerned with your success is a wise decision.

Definition of Ethnography as per Hammersley and Atkinson 1995, p.1

"In its most characteristic form, it involves the ethnographer participating, overtly or covertly, in people's daily lives for an extended period of time, watching what happens, listening to what is said, asking questions - in fact, collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the focus of the research"

Ethnographic Research – Key Features

An inclination to work mostly with the "unstructured" data. Basically, it involves dealing with the data has not been subjected to coding at the point of collection.
Detailed research and examination of a few research questions, sometimes only one.
Emphasis on exploring the nature of a particular social phenomenon, rather than setting out to test hypotheses on them.
In depth analysis of the data which involves clear understanding of the implications and purposes of human actions.

How does Ethnography fit into the research process (Qualitative Research)?

Ethnography begins from the theoretical position of describing social realities and their making. The foremost step of an ethnographic study is identification of the cultural group to be observed. This is followed by identifying the variables of the group, gaining entry and mingling with the people, acquiring information, defining the characteristics of the subjects and analysing the data gathered to reach proper conclusions

Research questions focus mainly on detailed descriptions of case studies. Using this method has key importance for the empirical and theoretical disclosure of the field under study and is not simply a problem which has to be solved technically. The scope for ethnography can be broad or narrow, depending on the type of culture that is to be observed. Study of a particular clan or social unit is termed as micro ethnography, while observing a wider cultural group comes under macro ethnography.

Ethnography can also be classified according to the viewpoint which it involves. Observing from within and knowing the insiders' point of view is called emic perspective, while study of the outsiders' perspective of the cultural group is known as etic. To maintain a balance between both these viewpoints, the researcher must not just understand the cultural group under study but also interpret the findings in a way that is intelligible for the external society.

Ethnography, thus, calls for a great level of reflexivity on the part of the researcher. The study should be conducted in the most natural surroundings and situations possible, to avoid any bias or deviation from the natural behaviour of people being studied. The study should involve a high degree of observation by the researcher, which can be done by taking notes or recording the conversations of the group being studied. The researcher often becomes an instrument or part of the research being conducted. This individual effort makes this particular method of research highly subjective.

The scope of ethnography is wide. It is beneficial for marketing research, by tracking the psychology and forecasting the behaviour of people. Advertising, demographic studies, criminology, medicinal research, nursing and economic studies find this branch of research highly helpful.