Ethnography

Description

Ethnography is a sociological method that explores how people live and make sense of their lives with one another in particular places. The focus might be on people and the meaning they produce through everyday interactions, or places, and the organizational logics that guide our activities (Columbia University Department of Sociology 2015).

Software

The purpose of ATLAS.ti is to help researchers uncover and systematically analyze complex phenomena hidden in unstructured data (text, multimedia, geospatial). The program provides tools that let the user locate, code, and annotate findings in primary data material, to weigh and evaluate their importance, and to visualize the often complex relations between them (Lewins and Silver 2007).

Dedoose is an alternative to other qualitative data analysis software, explicitly aimed at facilitating rigorous mixed methods research. This program facilitates the coding and analysis of qualitative data and their integration with demographic and other quantitative data. Dedoose is in use by marketing, ethnographic, clinical trial, social policy, education, and other research professionals.

How to Learn Ethnography

Using Google Maps to Teach Urban Ethnography
“I am teaching Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street in my Introduction to Sociology class, and I have found that an excellent supplement to the text is the “Street view” of Google Maps. With a simple internet connection, you can type in addresses into maps.google.com and show students the places Anderson describes in the book” (Hart-Brinson 2009).

Associations and Journals

Journal of Contemporary Ethnography (JCE), published bi-monthly, is an international and interdisciplinary forum for research using ethnographic methods to examine human behavior in natural settings. JCE brings you relevant material that examines a broad spectrum of social interactions and practices – in subcultures, cultures, organizations, and societies – from a variety of academic disciplines including, but not limited to, Anthropology, Communications, Criminal Justice, Education, Health Studies, Management, Marketing, and Sociology.

Examples

beforeidie2Before I Die: A Global Ethnography of Anonymous Aspirations in Chalk and Public Space

‘Where Children Sleep’: A Round-the-World Tour of Bedrooms

Ritual Violence in a Two-Car Garage

“Methods in Context” Nikki Jones and Ethnography

More Information/Resources

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.18.39 PM“Ethnography Matters is a space to talk about the blurring boundaries of our craft, where we can gain insight, advice and inspiration from those who are defining what high quality, accessible and innovative research might look like in a future that is increasingly mediated by technology. Ethnography Matters is not only for people who call themselves ethnographers but for researchers and practitioners who use and are inspired by ethnographic methods. Our audience and guest contributors range from formally trained ethnographers to design researchers, teachers, quantitative data scientists, and market researchers” (Ethnography Matters 2014).

Ethnography Matters Series

Long, Jennifer. 2012. “Understanding the Everyday: In-Class Ethnography for Social Science Students.” Teaching Innovation Projects 2(1).

Leblanc, Lauraine. 1998. “Observing Reel Life: Using Feature Films to Teach Ethnographic Methods.” Teaching Sociology 26(1):62–68.

Written by: Janae Teal
Last updated: 20 January 2015

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