Ethnography is a branch of anthropology that deals with the systematic study of individual cultures. It studies cultural phenomena from the POV of the subject of the study. It is also a type of social research involving examining the behavior of the participants in a certain social situation and understanding such behavior of the interpretation of group members.
As a form of inquiry, ethnography heavily depends on
- Participant observation
- The researcher taking part in the setting or with the people being studied, at least in some marginal role, and
- Seeking to document, in detail, patterns of social interaction and the various perspectives of participants,
- To understand these in their local contexts
It had its origin in social and cultural anthropology in the early twentieth century. However, this field of study has spread to other social science disciplines, including sociology, during the course of that century in particular. Ethnographers chiefly use qualitative methods, although they may also make use of quantitative data. The typical ethnography is more of a holistic study and therefore includes a brief history and an analysis of the terrain, climate, and habitat. A wide range of organizations and groups have been studied by this method, which includes youth gangs, religious cults, traditional communities, and organizations of various kinds. While, generally, ethnography has relied mainly on the physical presence of the researcher in such a setting, there is research making use of the label that has relied on documents or interviews, sometimes for the purpose of investigating events in the past such as the NASA Challenger disaster. There is also a great deal of virtual or online ethnography, sometimes also labelled netnography or cyber-ethnography.
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