What is ethnography?

Ethnography is basically cultural description. To be research, it needs explanatory power. Put one way, cultural description can demonstrate that cultural factors are the cause of the phenomenon being investigated.

Ethnography is a research methodology, not a solution in itself. It is most useful when the problem investigated is cultural. It can be used with other research methods, it would be normal (or even required) to use more than one method in larger projects. For example, ethnographies usually include some linguistic and demographic data, and not unusually include some statistics.

Although the home of ethnography is cultural antropology, it also works in many other contexts, in fact, anywhere that people develop their own subcultures and value systems:

Ethnography depends on an emic viewpoint. "Emic" means seeing things from the viewpoint of the people in the target culture. Their way of life probably makes perfect sense to them, even if it seems illogical or frustrating to outsiders. There are almost certainly very good reasons why they are like they are.

Ethnography usually includes participant observation. This means that, as a researcher, you actually take part in the activity rather than observe in the role of a neutral or hidden bystander. Ethnographers found out that they learnt more and understood events better than when they were actively involved:

To some extent, you're observing yourself but that is not a problem. You may need to commit yourself to a longer period of time that you anticipate. Otherwise, the procedures are the same as other ethnographic researches.

Views are mixed on taking photographs. Is some contexts, photographs are very practicable. In othe rsituations, however, people act very unnaturally if they know they are being photographed, which is not only frustrating for the ethnographer, but can result in information that is quite misleading.