Home > D844 > D844 Block One – Exercice 2 Question 1: What is ethnography, according to Hammersley and Atkison?

D844 Block One – Exercice 2 Question 1: What is ethnography, according to Hammersley and Atkison?

What is ethnography, according to Hammersley and Atkinson (2007, p. 1-5)

Hammersley an Atkison, claim that ethnography comes from nineteenth-century Western anthropology. Ethnography was primarily ‘a descriptive account of a community or culture, usually one located outside the West’ (ibid, p 1).

Mainly ethnography in the twentieth-century means writing about the experiences and observations (data) gathered from living with a group of people (fieldwork) for a long time. Aims in ethnography research studies are to understand other’s people lives.

The features that characterise ethnography are :

  1. People’s actions are studied in everyday contexts and not in laboratories
  2. Data, which are more often qualitative reports and field-notes, than quantitative figures, are gathered from a range of sources
  3. Gathered data are for the most part, unstructured
  4. Fieldwork is made of few cases, which facilitates in-depth study but doesn’t give a truthful picture of the whole
  5. Analysis involves interpretation of the meaning
  6. Studies employ a relatively open-ended approach (Maxwell, 2005)

Hammersley and Atkinson also claim the importance for the researchers to negotiate their position in the community they seek to study. This negotiation is an never-ending process, the researchers taking part to the community evolves and their roles may change and then must be re-negotiated regularly (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007, p. 4)

References

Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. (2007) Ethnography: Principles in practice, Taylor & Francis.
Maxwell, J.A. (2005) Qualitative research design: An interactive approach, Sage Publications, Inc.

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