Ethnography

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Ethnography (from Greek word ethnos = folk/people and grapho = to write) is a qualitative research method aimed to learn and understand cultural phenomena which reflect the knowledge and system of meanings guiding the life of a cultural group (Agar 1996). It was pioneered in the field of socio-cultural anthropology but has also become a popular method in various other fields of social sciences—particularly in sociology, communication studies, and history —that study people, ethnic groups and other ethnic formations, ethnogenesis, composition, resettlement, social welfare characteristics, as well as their material and spiritual culture. "When used as a method, ethnography typically refers to fieldwork (alternatively, participant-observation) conducted by a single investigator who 'lives with and lives like' those who are studied, usually for a year or more" ( Maanen, 1996). It is often employed for gathering empirical data on human societies and cultures. Data collection is often done through participant observation, interviews, questionnaires, etc (Spardley 1980). Ethnography aims to describe the nature of those who are studied (i.e. to describe a people, an ethnos) through writing. In the biological sciences, this type of study might be called a field study or a case report, both of which are used as common synonyms for ethnography. Krueger (1994) states that data collection methods are meant to capture the "social meanings and ordinary activities" of people (informants) in naturally occurring settings that are commonly referred to as the field. The goal is to collect data in such a way that the researcher does not impose any of their own bias on the data. Multiple methods of data collection may be employed to facilitate a relationship that allows for a more personal and in-depth portrait of the informants and their community. These can include participant observation, field notes, interviews, and surveys. Interviews are often taped and later transcribed,...
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