Ethnography

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What makes ethnography distinctive as a research methodology compare to other approaches to study social deviance?

Ethnographies of deviant behavior are one of the most popular within the sociological genre. It identifies studies that involves ‘personal observation, interaction, and experience (as) the only way to acquire accurate knowledge about deviant behaviour’ (Adler, 1985:11) Ethnography requires having a input to various fields such as anthropology, sociology and criminology in order to highlight research that encounters deviance in natural setting. Ethnographic methods differs from many other approaches because it isn’t simply a prescribed set of methods, it is a methodology that take in account of the complexity of human experience and involves in-depth research and sustained observation of human behavior.

Ethnographic research is descriptive, subjective, analytical and comparative. Even though ‘qualitative interviewing’ and other more formal methodologies are usually part of an ethnographic study, the hallmark of ethnographic research is ‘participant observation’. The purposes of the participant observation are to observe activities, people and physical aspects of situation and also to engage in activities that provide detailed information in a given situation. They use observational methods such as interview with open-ended questions and audio, video recordings of behaviours.

Ethnographic researches rely on themselves unlike experimental research which relies on tests and questionnaires. Ethnographers are the major instruments of data collection since they collect their data through fieldwork. They immerse themselves in the life of a social group in order to obtain all the necessary data. It also employs a holistic research method which means that ethnography is based on the idea that system’s properties cannot be accurately as the sum of its individual elements. This means that ethnographer not only just observes every individual aspect of...
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