What is Ethnography?

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Ethnography refers to an assortment of qualitative approaches used in social sciences to study social interactions and practices. These approaches allow researchers to construct theories and interpret how social processes happen and why they happen. These approaches are specifically important in elucidating steps involved in social processes that are yet to be fully understood and generating broad explanations regarding the experiences of people. Qualitative research is mostly inductive and involved generating hypothesis. It enables a researcher to come up with informed guesses on why or how a process occurs. On the other hand, quantitative research is more deductive and tends to test a hypothesis. It enables a researcher to determine the extent to which an informed guess is true across a specific population. Ethnography makes a significant contribution to qualitative approaches because it tends to examine contexts within which activities happen deeply. It usually involves a researcher’s work with participants as they engage their day to day activities.

What Ethnographic Procedures Entail

An ethnographer describes the happenings by capturing the views of different people concerning an event as well as analyzing various documentations such as historical records or policies. These approaches enable researchers to make clear distinctions and identify ambiguities within interpretations of a situation. Some common ethnographic approaches include photo elicitation, semi-structured interviews, mapping exercises and observation of participations in libraries. Ethnography transcends event reporting and details regarding experiences. It makes deliberate attempts to elaborate how these experiences and reports represent constructions of culture that people live in. Researchers develop cultural understanding by representing emic perspectives or insider points of view. This allows emergence of important meanings and categories as opposed to imposition of such from pre-existing models. Ethnographic understandings are also developed by exploring data sources closes. When a researcher uses data sources as a critical foundation, he or she can fully depend on analysis of a cultural framework.

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