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Ethnography. Participant observation Boom in the last 40 yrs Qualitative interview Narrative Analysis A method and a product School of thought. What it means-. Literally means ‘writing about people’.

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Participant observation

Boom in the last 40 yrs

Qualitative interview

Narrative Analysis

A method and a product

School of thought

What it means
What it means-

  • Literally means ‘writing about people’.

  • People as meaning makers, how people interpret their worlds, need to understand particular cul worlds in which people live

  • Which people construct and utilize

Key ideas
Key Ideas

  • S Be. Cannot be reduced to predictable ‘variables’.(Blumer, 1967)

  • People actively collaborate in the ‘construction’ and maintenance of the cul. Meanings which inform their actions

  • Researchers therefore need to find ways of engaging with those meanings and the processes through which they’re constructed.

  • By its ambitions and nature tends to focus on ltd range of cases, often only one case


  • To get in this or that s. world, to see how the participants find that world, and to be able as Researchers to describe how its cul ticks.

  • Hospital world (Roth), school (woods) or any society

  • Strong links with Anthropological research- participant observer of everyday life.(not always)

Variety but common grounds
Variety, but common grounds

  • Anthropological, feminist, cultural studies, media studies, urban studies

  • Reaction to positivism and quantitative approaches

  • Key link- interpretative theoretical ideas of one form or the other.

  • Informed by ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, phenomenology, critical theory, and strands of feminism, postmodernism.

Orientation of the researcher
Orientation of the researcher

  • Insider-researcher

  • Action researcher

  • Practitioner researcher

Early works
Early works

  • Exhortations that ethnography stands or falls on the provision of ‘rich’ details of cul. Scenes-traveller’s journeys- Anthropology naiive and romantic

  • Thick descriptions- Geertz, 1988- strong sense of the particular realities

  • Lincoln and Guba (1985, 1989)- Transferability

  • Others- plausibility or versimilitude

  • Entering the other world

  • Sensing the believability of that world

  • Yet others- Credibility-how long, accnt of decision making, adequate attention to reflexivity issues, and so on. Why hypo

  • Data gathering and analysis simultaneously


  • Explore

  • Document the prespectives

  • Telling the story-let the voices be heard of marginalised members

  • Later- Bottoms-up approach- Micro-macro

  • Critical Ethnographers

  • Human Instrument

  • Entering the field

  • Negotiating and gaining access

  • Key Informants

  • But not much on emotional ups and downs

  • How to draw boundaries

  • Today- the world of ethnographies is ‘ blurred genres’ Geertz