Session 2: Doing Ethnography Q&A (1 hour)
The aims of this session were to:
- introduce students to key aspects of designing and carrying out an ethnographic research project;
- answer student questions about ethnography and ethnographic methods.
Outline of content:
- Project staff gave brief presentations on aspects of designing and carrying out ethnographic research, based on their own research. The presentations focused on finding a ‘site’ or group to work with and recording ethnographic data through fieldnotes.
- The floor was opened to questions from the students. Some of the key themes that emerged from the questions were around access (how to approach people or identify people to talk to or interview, what to do if people are hostile or uninterested) and ethics (when do you tell people you are doing research, can you use informal interactions with people as part of your research data).
Notes for guidance:
- Giving the students concrete examples from our own research seemed to work well.
- Students need to have clear guidance on ethics paperwork and the ethics of doing ethnographic research. We discussed issues of online and face-to-face informed consent; the use of pseudonyms in written work; and the need to inform participants about your research.
- Students may conceptualise ethnographic research in terms of interviews and finding people to interview. We discussed trying to develop less formal interactions, opportunities for participant-observation, and spending time to build up relationships.