Advantages of ethnographic research

These behaviours were very instructive in helping to re-design the process flow. Since ethnography relies on qualitative research, it can be hard for the researcher to choose a sample to study. Conclusion We would generally recommend that an ethnographic approach may be suitable for the early stages of a user-centred project that deals with a particularly complicated or critical design challenge.

Because they immerse themselves in the culture, ethnographers often experience culture shock, feel awkward and out of place, are lonely, may experience considerable discomfort and occasionally personal danger, in addition to the constant pressure to maintain alertness as a participant observer.

ethnographic research definition

When conducting other types of studies, which are not based on in-situ observation or interaction, it can very easy to miss unexpected issues.

Ethnographers also study countercultures and workplace groups, requiring careful planning to avoid doing harm to the subjects. The tribal chief, for example, usually has a significantly better life than his people, so his view is not representative of the life of the entire tribe.

These ethnographic methods can also be very useful in discovering and exploring previously unknown issues. Perhaps the most critical decision within an ethnographic study is the choice of ethnographic researcher. There have been several approaches to this study; Franz Boas, for example, preferred using documents and informants to learn more about other cultures.

ethnographic research methods

Ethnographic methods such as participant observation could also be used to evaluate an existing design — but their true value comes from developing an early understanding of the relevant domain, audience sprocesses, goals and context s of use.

Once trust is built, the ethnographer spends inordinate amounts of time in participant observation and other data collection methods, taking notes and other chores, to maintain as near a perfect record as possible.

Strengths and weaknesses of ethnography pdf

Before he could begin studying a certain group of people, the ethnographer has to build rapport with his subjects and make them comfortable around him. Ethnography provides a window, so those outside the culture can understand what the group does and why. Ethnographers are able to tease out the the range of group experiences in ways that are sensitive to the uniqueness of the subject group. Individual methods which are available within an ethnographic study include: participant observation, interviews and surveys. Because of its richer output, an ethnographic study will tend to take longer to generate and analyse its data than many other methods. Ethnographers also study countercultures and workplace groups, requiring careful planning to avoid doing harm to the subjects. The two main potential weaknesses with ethnographic studies are: Researcher Ethnographic researchers need to be very highly-skilled to avoid all the potential pitfalls of an ethnographic study. A Voice for Understanding Ethnographies allow the culture to speak about its views and perspectives that would otherwise be drowned out by the dominant culture, and go untold. This system had evolved over many years and actually represented a patchwork of previous systems. What is ethnographic research? Because the ethnographer takes carefully structured and detailed notes in the participant observation, interviews, and other data-collection processes, an ethnography is a powerful way to reveal, in context, the many elements of group interactions. Equally, highly critical systems where failure or error can lead to disaster could also justify significant ethnographic research.

Once in the field, an ethnographer must take time to build trust. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of ethnography.

Ethnographic research examples

Ethnographers are able to tease out the the range of group experiences in ways that are sensitive to the uniqueness of the subject group. Once in the field, an ethnographer must take time to build trust. As we can see from the above, most of the risks associated with ethnographic studies relate to the researcher, either directly or indirectly. Building this relationship can be easy, but there are cases when the ethnographer would have a difficult time creating rapport with his subjects. Ethnographers also study countercultures and workplace groups, requiring careful planning to avoid doing harm to the subjects. Ethics Concerns Ethnographers must pay special attention to ethics as they conduct their studies. It can lead to cultural bias. Because they immerse themselves in the culture, ethnographers often experience culture shock, feel awkward and out of place, are lonely, may experience considerable discomfort and occasionally personal danger, in addition to the constant pressure to maintain alertness as a participant observer. This system had evolved over many years and actually represented a patchwork of previous systems. For example: An insurance company wanted to re-design their system dealing with the processing of insurance claims. Since ethnography relies on qualitative research, it can be hard for the researcher to choose a sample to study. Once trust is built, the ethnographer spends inordinate amounts of time in participant observation and other data collection methods, taking notes and other chores, to maintain as near a perfect record as possible. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of ethnography. Ethnography provides a window, so those outside the culture can understand what the group does and why.
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9 Pros and Cons of Ethnography