Ethno: people or folk; Graphy: describe something = Ethnography: describing and understanding another way of life from the native point of view (Neuman, 2007)

Aim History Methodology

Strengths & Weaknesses Historical-Comparative Research

What is an Ethnography?
It documents routine daily lives of people (Fetterman,1998) Explores a cultural group Lives with people, or spends a lot of time with them Has a guiding question that evolves during the study (Hall, 2003)

Where is it Used?
Cultural Anthropology Sociology Business Organizational Psychology

Aim of Ethnography


Unobtrusive Identifies geographical and temporal coordinates Makes visible lives of those not normally told (Williams, 2000) Tries to obtain insider’s view of how a group manages and organizes their time (Viller, 2004) Understands the point of view from inside the group (McCleverty, 1997)


To identify behavior patterns and anticipate; to make the reader understand the perspective of the native to the culture studied (Fetterman, 1998) Understand context, complexity, and politics of social processes (Warren, 2004)

History of Anthropology/Ethnography (USA)
Morgan Lawyer and anthropologist In 1851 he published an ethnography about Indians in the USA. He didn't gather the information himselfwas a “sofa” anthropologist

History of Anthropology (United Kingdom)
The first ethnographies in Britain were published in 18981899. They were built on field research like we know it today Malinowski Considered the father of modern anthropology Wrote numerous ethnographies that are well known still today

Sir Frazer about Malinowski’s Methods in “Argonauts of the Western Pacific.”
Malinowski’s work was done under the best conditions and provided the best possible results at that time Good theoretical training Stayed with the Trobriands for a great time Lived as a native among natives Watched them daily at work and at play Had conversations with them in their own language Derived information from personal observation Statements directly by the natives Characteristics of Malinowski’s method (Malinowski, 1922)

Malinowski´s Methods
“I consider that only such ethnographic sources are of unquestionable scientific value, in which we can clearly draw the line between, on the one hand, the results of direct observations and of native statements and interpretations, and on the other hand, the inferences of the author, based on his common sense and psychological insight” (Malinowski, 1922, p. 3)

Malinowski - Important for Ethnographic Work:
Accurate information Complex information Observation Speaking the native language is important No contact with white people Seek information naturally, instead of having informants Should have a strong theoretical background Join yourself with the natives Typical ways of thinking and feeling Use the native language as an instrument (Malinowski, 1922)

Evans-Pritchard´s Methodology
Malinowski´s student Did research among the Azande 1926-1930 1930 published his ethnography “Witchcraft, oracles, and magic among the Azande” Used informants Native language Length of stay 1-2 years Get to know natives through the children Live like the natives (EvansPritchard, 1988)

1950s-1980s: Ethnography as “thick description” (Clifford Geertz)
Culture based Meaning oriented. Meaning is “a set of culturally constructed and historically specific guides, frames, or models of and for human feeling, intention, and action” (Ortner 1999: 137) Specific to time and place (i.e. cultural relativism) Opposed to power and politics. “[C]ulture is not power, something to which social events, behaviours, institutions, or processes can be causally attributed; it is a context, something within which they can be intelligiblythat is, thickly-described”( Geertz 1973:14) Opposed to the “thin description” of post-positivism

Attributes of Thick Description
Hermeneutics Semiotics Data: “our own constructions of other people’s constructions of what they and their compatriots are up to” (Geertz 1973:9) Analysis: “guessing at meanings, assessing the guesses, and drawing explanatory conclusions for the better guesses” (p. 20) Theory: a “General Theory of Cultural Interpretation” is not possible, but a “cultural theory” could be derived Generalization: not possible across cases but within cases Prediction: not prediction but anticipation

From 1980s: Re-emergence of politics and power in cultural/historical analysis of social Phenomena (Edward Said and Michel Foucault)

Social phenomena as effects of external power structures (e.g. political and economic institutions at the national and international level) Influenced by the rise of new perspectives such as critical theory and neo-Marxist ideology

Today’s Ethnography: Holistic and Evolutionary in nature
Characterised by a lack of consensus Dissolving conceptual oppositions (Sahlins 1993) Departure from the approach of “searching under the disturbed topsoil of modernity for the traces of a pristine and primitive existence” (Sahlins 1993) Analysis of local situations with reference to relevant external institutional/political structures Eclecticism of methodologies/ methods

The Effects of Post-Modernism on Ethnography
Postmodernist came into anthropology around 1980 Interpretation on interpretation on interpretation… Reflexivity Power (Bowmann 1997, Layton 1997, Nugent 1996)


Outline of Process
Identifying problem or topic of interest Fieldwork – Data collection and analysis Participant Observation – Individuals and groups Analysis – Holistic Report (Fetterman,


Ethnographer’s Jargon

Emic – inside (Hall, 2003) Etic – outside (Hall, 2003) Key informant / key actor – individual of group who closely interacts with ethnographer (Fetterman, 1998) Culture - beliefs, values, behaviors of a cohesive people (Morse and Richards, 2002)


Characteristics of Ethnographies Holistic Data collection and analysis occur together Data collection oscillates between individuals and groups (Fetterman,

Negotiate Access

Fieldwork (Morse and Richards, 2002), (Fetterman, 1998) Stages Negotiating entry– the Gatekeeper, Key Actors, Key Informants Introductory period – routines, roles, relationships Participatory observation– important! (Hall, 2003)


Fieldwork Methods Selection and sampling Participant observation Interviewing Autobiographical interviewing Questionnaires Projective techniques Participant’s classification Outcropping Existing documented information Proxemics and kinesics Folktales Notes, notes, notes!!! (Fetterman, 1998)


Analysis Evaluating relevance Looking for patterns Considering phenomena through the cultural perspective “Thick description” (Morse and Richards, 2002) Classifications, parameters, etic observations Maps, drawings, charts (Fetterman, 1998)


A few words on writing… Writing must be good from the field notes to the final product Write for your audience Write for the objective – to make the etic perspective see the emic perspective


The National Park System Anthropology Background
Embedding Cultural Anthropology in NPS
Introduction of ERI (Ethnographic Resources Inventory) (Everett, 2006)

Sense of Place
By Keith Basso

AnarchoEnvironmentalism Study
– By Nicole Shepherd – Gaining Access

Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages: In-Depth understanding of a culture amongst a group of people (detailed and more likely valid interpretations) Gives a voice to a culture to express their views, which might not otherwise be heard Influential in creating an understanding among outsiders Also may reveal embedded cultural values that were not obvious to the group

Advantages and Disadvantages
Disadvantages: Cumbersome and Timeconsuming, and can be expensive Possibility that researcher is changing the natural way a culture behaves by being present Not really able to generalize findings Inappropriate for analyzing complex environmental problems whose causeeffect relationships are external to the place and time of study (e.g., climate change) Difficulty of reconciling constructive engagement with critical reflection


Deals with countries and history Powerful tool for addressing big questions
Switzerland and the U.S. have been compared in terms of the use of democracy and women’s right to vote Causes of Societal Revolutions: China, France and Russia

Need to have a knowledge of the past or other cultures to fully understand H-C studies

Organized along 3 dimensions:
Focus on one nation, small set of nations, or many nations Focus on single time period or across many years Focus analysis based on quantitative or qualitative

Uses case-studies to elaborate historical processes and specify concrete historical details Researchers focus on culture

Relies on indirect evidence Reconstructs what occurred from the evidence Types of evidence:
Primary: Archival data: found in museums, archives, libraries, private collections Secondary: What other historians have/are writing Running-Record: Documentaries maintained by private or non-profit orgs Recollections: Autobiographies, memoirs, oral histories nor/308/308lect09.htm

Prevents “heroworship” Creates understanding among outsiders Raises concerns about old explanations and finds support for new ones that are context specific

Need to have a grasp of the past and about other cultures to be able to fully understand H-C studies Reconstructs the past, may be inaccurate

Any Questions?