Ethnography is often thought of as 'observation'. For us it is much more than that. For us it means being with people in their world, not some artificially constructed 'research world'.
Our approach to ethnography has been influenced significantly by our recent academic work in anthropology.
- Ethnography is about understanding someone's world from their perspective, finding out how they make sense of their world.
In ethnography we want to know how people behave in their society and culture. We want to know how they live and how they make their lives work. We are less focused on their individual psychology or in their mindset and more interested in their social interactions and their response to cultural trends.
It is also important to understand how the topic we are interested in fits into the rest of that person's life.
- One of the key ways in which people make sense of their world is through ritual. We will be writing more about this in coming months.
To understand the other person's perspective the researcher must spend time with them. By all means introduce the topic that you want to find out about, but after that the researcher has to allow the person they are interested in to be 'their own person'. In practice, the researcher needs to create a specific activity to share in or to observe perhaps as a pretext for the 'real' reason for the interview.
We can conduct ethnography in all sorts of different ways, including online.