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Diploma in Ethnography

Study the processes, theories and methods of ethnography in this free online course.

Publisher: NPTEL
Ethnography is the academic study of peoples and cultures with regard to their various customs, habits and differences. It is a method of qualitative research where the subject is the interactions between people and their social context. In this free online course, you will learn about the ethnographic process, research and concepts. You will also consider the challenges and methods used in ethnography to gather data for research.
Diploma in Ethnography
  • Duration

    10-15 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation


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Delve into ethnography and methods of qualitative research in this free online course. The material takes you through different aspects in the field of ethnography, starting with important terminology. You will learn about ‘the other’ and differing notions of reality, ethnographic processes and the ‘research question’. This explores how the specific questions a researcher asks and their wording can impact the rest of the study. Then, look at case studies that show the ethnographic process in action in the real world. Next, you will begin understanding challenges and observations in ethnography. As it deals with people and their interactions, and tries to understand their cultures and processes, the research method is necessarily complicated because of the social and cultural differences between the researcher and the participants in the study. The course explores these difficulties and looks at how the researcher can gain access while still being respectful of the subjects. You will be taught about maintaining trust and building rapport in an ethical way, and look at the idea of ‘immersion’ to gain a better understanding of being both an insider and an outsider in your research, whether it is overt or covert. Next, consider the use of ‘observation’ to gather data: different types of observation methods and what is necessary to observe in order to answer the research question. You will learn about ‘participation observation’, which entails learning about a phenomenon while engaging with it, and the different degrees of using this method.  

Then, you will learn about designing an ethnographic interview and using visual ethnography. The course covers the different forms of interviews that can be used in ethnography as well as their characteristics. Importantly, you will learn how to structure these interviews in order to guide the core discussion so that fundamental information that aids the research question is gleaned. You will also learn that in doing these interviews, the researcher needs to create space for the participant and researcher to be equal. Continue onto the visual ethnographic method (or using photography, film and digital media) and analyze the part ‘reflexivity’ plays in this or how you need to examine and consciously acknowledge the assumptions and preconceptions that you as a researcher bring to the study and therefore may shape its outcome.

Finally, the material recaps the content of the different modules and shows how ethnographic studies are used in multiple disciplines such as design and education, to create new approaches in their respective fields. This thorough course introduces you to the world of ethnography and shows you how to use the ethnographic process to research and study phenomena around people and their culture.

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