Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ethnography provides a real world way of looking at a problem or opportunity, applying social and cultural understanding to the topic. What this means is that ethnography provides a wide range of answers that, if analyzed properly, go well beyond the tactical, the sensational, and the superficial. True ethnography includes a rigorous process of data collection and analysis using a scientific method, which ensures that findings are based on a careful examination of the data and not a focus on the most dramatic video clips or quotes.

The first step into a sub culture you want to study should be finding someone within that sub group. This insider is your ticket into the sub culture and discovering everything there is to know from an anthropologist perspective. This can be easily done by either contacting a friend who is part of a sub culture or through a friend of a friend. It also doesn’t hurt to contact someone in the sub culture even if you do not know them. Additionally, it is important that this client or friend is well versed in his culture that he or she is a part of and is willing to share detailed information about their sub culture.

Once you've found your way into a sub culture, you need to set up a time to interview them and experience their culture. First, ethnography provides an opportunity to find out what people actually say and do. By creating a taxonomy, you will be able to catalog the different terms or attributes that your client gives you. However, the questions that you give might lead answers that contain personal opinion and their cultural opinion put together. It isn't that people lie, it's that culturally defined ideals may not correspond to the realities of daily life. In addition, people often weed out information that they believe is extraneous to the topic at hand. Use observational and interviewing techniques to collect data that will provide a full understanding of the context surrounding the topic at hand. This background information of data is often overlooked or weeded out by participants. Because of this, it is better that you pay attention to human behavior from many angles, uncovering opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked.

Finally, it is recommended that you set up another interview with your contact or friend using your taxonomy you have created. It is at this stage that you discuss the meaning of all the cultural categories you have obtained. Through thorough questioning about the categories, you can gain a better understanding of each category. This allows you with full and complete perspective on the sub culture you have been studying.


By following these steps you should have no problem creating a ethnography on the sub culture you are studying. It is important to note that two members of a group might not reflect the entire sub cultures view on the way they live. The more effort you put into learning the sub culture, the better you will be able to understand a completely different culture then your own.

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