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What is Ethnography?

Ethnography is a study or process of knowing about particular human society of a region.

The word Ethnography comes from Greek words, Which means writing(s) about people.
Ethnos- folk/ people
Grapho- to write

It is entirely based on the fieldwork to know about the entire lifestyle of the people who are subjected to the study.

Study of Ethnography

Ethnographers stay in the region among the people to learn the people, their language and culture. This method is known as participant observation. It is a difficult practice to understand a foreign culture. The extended period they spend with the people gives the ethnographers to get a chance to know the local people.

Also the people get used to the ethnographers and build close relationship and understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.

By the way the ethnographers immerse in the culture and way of life and become a participant in daily life. Ethnographers are supposed to write field notes that are witness for the ethnographers part. Field notes give detailed description about the study and gives a clear view for the readers to understand. Now a days ethnographers make use of technologies to take record videos and voices and get a detailed description.

Franz Boaz is known as the father of American Ethnography.

He culminated the idea that a researcher should avoid judgemental attitude towards the culture to be studied.

He is the founder of the first department of Anthropology in the United States at Columbia University, that became a to start for anthropology departments at other colleges and universities across United States.

Boaz implemented a very different approach and realized that true understanding of any group of people comes from understanding their culture from their perspective.

Characteristics of Ethnography

  1. The study of research is done naturally, not in laboratory.
  2. Data’s are collected through field word.
  3. Researchers need face to face interaction with the participants.
  4. Produces the behaviour and cultural understanding
  5. Held by various interviews, visualization observation and reviews.
  6. Produces intimate relationship between the researcher and the people.
  7. Works with unstructured data
  8. It is all about exploring/ discovery.
  9. Interpreting and learning the human feelings.
  10. The fact or situation cannot be analysed, or removed from their social and cultural circumstances.

Advantages of Ethnography

  • Observations done in natural field
  • Provides comprehensive perspective
  • Identifies and analyses unexpected issues.
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Build relationships between researcher and people
  • Opportunistic and flexible

Disadvantages of Ethnography

  • Time consuming
  • Requires well trained researchers
  • Difficult to check the conclusion of the researcher.
  • The researchers views is not possible to eliminate which may result to affect the design and study of data
  • Unstructured data
  • Hard to plan the path or time of study

Importance of Ethnographic research

Anthropology relies on ethnographic research on field. It involves in getting out with the related people and gathering information. The information gathered depends on the researches interest and plan bases on the plan. Results in study of a culture.

Ethnography in Research

Examples of Ethnography

Here are a few books that are either ethnography’s or use ethnography for their main point of analysis.

  • City of Strangers: Gulf Migration and the Indian Community in Bahrain by Andrew M. Gardner
  • The Gebusi: Lives Transformed in a Rain forest World – by Bruce M Knauft.
  • Transnational Tortillas: Race, Gender, and Shop-Floor Politics in Mexico and the United States: Carolina Bank Munoz.
  • Weeds, Roads, and God: A Half-Century of Culture Change among the Philippine Ga’dang: Ben J. Wallace
  • The Making of a Human Bomb: An Ethnography of Palestinian Resistance (The Cultures and Practice of Violence): Nasser Abufarha

Ethnography is being used in many ways these days and gives out interesting facts of society and culture. It gives the in-depth definition about a particular culture.

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