Topic: Ethnography Essay
Pages: 2 (500 Word Essay)
Academic level: Master's
Ethnography is a social science that has as subject peoples, their culture and the way of life, origins, resettlement processes of cultural and social relations at all stages of human history. It focuses on the issues of ethnic history, international relations, national processes, traditional consumer culture, folk knowledge, life and folk art.
Ethnography is the history of people, which includes their history, housing, clothing, food, their family structure. Moreover, it explores their world, people’s knowledge, beliefs and superstitions, rituals and customs. In other words, ethnography examines social relationships mediated by material objects. For example, the clothes’ function in the early stages was shielding from cold and other adverse effects of nature; in the hot zone, it had another primary function – to decorate the body. However, the secondary functions of clothing exist for a long time: sex and socio-separable. Later, it includes the ritual role of clothes. It brings together people of an equal social and ethnic status. Direct observation and description of customs, life, people, and world are the main methods of ethnography. In addition to that, it makes an extensive use of written, data archaeology, anthropology, geography, folklore, and linguistics.
A research technique, which is useful for exploring, is the in-depth interviewing. In-depth interviews are the method of qualitative sociological and marketing research. Their feature is the length, detail, consideration of non-verbal signals such as intonation, gestures, posture. The purpose of this interview is a deep study of the issue. Sometimes, the interviewer can get information that, in the other case, the respondent hides. The in-depth interview can both instigate on the openness and make it possible to put the respondent on a particular issue and reach his proper understanding. However, this method has its drawbacks – the complexity, high demands on the skills of the interviewer, the impact on the respondent and suggestion.
The other qualitative research method is the group interviews in a form of conversation between a few respondents usually 6-12 people on a given topic. Unlike the classic interview, the communication is mainly between the respondents, and a moderator only directs the conversation. Focus groups are popular in the sociological and marketing research. The method can reveal the motivation of people, helps to see options of perception and attitude to specific problems. The focus group is a qualitative method, and it cannot lead to quantitative conclusions. The purpose of the focus group interviews is not reaching of the consensus by the group, but determination of the thoughts’ direction of each participant.
Field research or field work is a general term for works in terms of collecting the primary data. It is appropriate for the natural and social sciences: biology, ecology, environmental science, cartography, geodesy, geology, geography, geophysics, palaeontology, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, sociology and others. In addition to that, the term can be implemented in other areas, for example, audit. Field work is held on the ground, which means outside the laboratory, and is opposite to laboratory or experimental studies that take place in the controlled environment. The latter is often referred to as an office work or studies. In the case of a successful conduction, the results give more information than any other research method. The field research gives unexpected results faster. The researcher may suddenly discover that his previous understanding was completely false. However, field work has its own significant limitations. It is possible to explore only a small group or community.
Consequently, ethnography is a science that explores people and their entire life. Researchers use different methods that help to find the maximal precise information about the study subject. They include in-depth interviewing, focus groups, and field research. All of these methods have their advantages because they can get particular data. On the other hand, they all have their limitations. Therefore, the best way of conducting a research is to combine different methods.