Organizing Ethnographic Research 1
Organizing Ethnographic Research
Three Main Sections:
2. Description of Role as Participant/Observer or Methods
3. Data Analysis (includes Conclusion)
Rationale or Introduction
* Introduce your culture and the reason(s) for studying it. Answer the following questions: 1. What are some of the things people might think or say about my culture?
; “Most people think the Laundromat is a place devoid of good times.”
2. What are the different points of view of my culture?
; “Most of my friends avoid going to the Laundromat. In fact, one friend even said, “____.”
I, however, disagree. I have discovered that many of today’s Laundromats are doing
much more than they used to keep their clientele entertained while washing their
3. What are the issues that lead me to choose to study this culture?
; “I feel that the negative opinions of Laundromats reveal some class and economic
4. Why does it matter? Why is it important to study this culture?
; “In today’s society and difficult economy, understanding and busting cultural myths
concerning economics and class are important.”
5. What did I learn or hope to learn from this study?
; “In studying my local Laundromat, I hope to show that Laundromats are not only
frequented by people across all economic levels but are also becoming more
Description of Role/Methods
1. Describe the culture, its location and purpose.
2. Explain your position in the culture:
a. How do you interact with this culture?
b. How long have you participated in it?
c. What is your level of expertise or experience in the culture?
d. What biases, expectations, ideas, or limitations do you bring to the study? 3. Explain your methods: How did you gather data?
a. Ethnographic research: How did you gather data? Did you use observations? Interviews?
How many? What were the parameters, questions, etc?
b. Library research: Which books, articles and such did you seek out and why?
Organizing Ethnographic Research 2
* Use an organizational structure to present and analyze the data according to your purpose.
a. arrange data according to time as though you were telling a story.
b. useful especially for exploratory purposes.
i. When I first began research, I observed . . .
ii. As I continued my observations, I noticed . . .
iii. These observations led me to want to know more. My library research
revealed . . .
iv. As a result of these findings . . .
Parts of a Whole
d. arrange data according to the parts that make up the topic.
e. good for exploratory and analytical purposes.
i. Section One: Character Sketches of Culture Members
ii. Section Two: The Culture’s Location and its Significance
iii. Section Three: Important Rituals of the Culture
g. NOTE: each of the sections above would involve multiple paragraphs in which each
paragraph described a sub-part of the whole
h. arrange data into categories or claims.
i. good for argumentative purposes.
i. From my observations, I have noticed several unstated values or assumptions of
this culture. These values impact the way the culture promotes itself and is
viewed by others. The first assumption I observed is . . .
ii. The second assumption I observed is . . .
iii. The third
* Finish all with a Conclusion:
; Answer your focusing and follow-up questions if they have not been directly addressed
already. Restate for clarity only as necessary.
; Did your research challenge or confirm your initial expectations?
; What do you see as the value of your research?