(from Greek ethnos
"folk, people, nation" and grapho
"I write") is the systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural
phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group
. The word can thus be said to have a double meaning, which partly depends on whether it is used as a count noun
or uncountable. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group.
As a method of data collection, ethnography entails examining the behaviour of the participants in a certain specific social situation and also understanding their interpretation of such behaviour. Dewan (2018) further elaborates that this behaviour may be shaped by the constraints the participants feel because of the situations they are in or by the society in which they belong. Ethnography, as the presentation of empirical
data on human societies
, was pioneered in the biological, social, and cultural branches of anthropology
, but it has also become popular in the social sciences
, communication studies, history--wherever people study ethnic groups, formations, compositions, resettlements, social welfare characteristics, materiality, spirituality, and a people's ethnogenesis
. The typical ethnography is a holistic
study and so includes a brief history, and an analysis of the terrain
, the climate
, and the habitat
. In all cases, it should be reflexive, make a substantial contribution toward the understanding of the social life of humans, have an aesthetic impact on the reader, and express a credible reality. An ethnography records all observed behavior and describes all symbol-meaning relations, using concepts that avoid causal explanations. Traditionally, ethnography was focussed on the western gaze towards the far 'exotic' east, but now researchers are undertaking ethnography in their own social environment. According to Dewan (2018), even if we are the other, the 'another' or the 'native', we are still 'another' because there are many facades of ourselves that connect us to people and other facades that highlight our differences. Read more...