Ethnography

By Lisa Loop, Dr. DeLacy Derin Ganley, and Dr. Anita P. Quintanar, written Summer 2005. Adapted for the CGU Writing Center website by Tara Prescott, Fall 2007.

 

The Guiding Premise of the Ethnographic Narrative Project

Ethnographic studies allow the investigator to describe and analyze the practices and beliefs of cultures and communities. The focus is to understand the culture or community from a participant observer perspective that takes into account the insider’s and the outsider’s perspective (modification of D. Mertens, 1998, p. 164). It is guided by the investigator’s “mental models” (Senge, 1990); that is, it is guided by the researcher’s own paradigm and/or theory about the way things are.

In ethnography, the researcher must be willing to abandon or modify his/her paradigm when presented with data that does not “fit” his/her original model. Ethnographic studies allow the researcher to observe a complex world in a way so he/she can describe the interrelationships among previously unknown themes and patterns and, in turn, in a way that expands and informs the researcher’s own perspective.

The Ethnographic Narrative Project is divided into six parts with each part gradually expanding the focus.

In the following sections, there are guiding questions to help you understand the scope and focus of each section.

Look at the spirit of these questions. They are meant to give you a sense of the kinds of questions you should be seeking to answer in each section. They are not question and answer prompts meant to be answered in a sentence or two.

 

 

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