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Module 1: Introduction to Ethnography

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Introduction to Ethnography - Lesson Summary

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Ethnography

- Ethnography is a method of research where the subject of study is related to people and their ways of interacting with each other and the world around them.

- Ethnography comes from the fields of sociology and anthropology.

- Ethnography can be defined as the act or process of writing about people. It can also be defined as writing about race and cultures.

- Contemporary ethnography often focuses on narratives from marginalised populations. This includes; working class people, woman, ethnic minorities, oppressed caste persons and others.

What is meant by the other?

- The other is someone who is different from us, however this can change across contexts.
- Othering creates inequalities between us and those whose worlds we study.
- The other is a stakeholder in the research and contributor of the knowledge or solutions that emerge
from the research.

Building an equal and engaging relationship with our participants requires work and thought. Researchers are often from a position of greater privilege, socially or economically. Recognising these privileges is part of understanding the position that we occupy in society and in the research interaction with our participants. This kind of understanding must go beyond politeness or kindness but rather through empathy.

- Empathy enables us to place ourselves in the position of the other, allowing us to bridge distances that exist or the distances we sometimes create, between the other and ourselves.

- This comes through understanding that we all have different views on the world.

- With different views comes different realities.

- Realities are constructed and defined by each individual context.

- Ethnographers observe visible behaviour to learn about underlying beliefs and structures

- The interpretation of what is observe is defined by where we stand in relation to the other - as members of a social-cultural context, and as individuals.