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Ways of Knowing

What is Ethnography?

Very simply, ethnography is the research approach used by cultural anthropologists when studying groups of people. It involves four key tenets:
  • Participant Observation. Ethnographers spend time with people as they go about their daily lives, learning how they live by actually doing what they do.
  • Natural Setting. Ethnography is conducted in the space where participants actually live, work and play, not in a separate research facility.
  • In Their Own Words. Ethnography research findings are delivered in the words of the participants, using their language and intonation.
  • Holism. People's actions and thoughts are influenced, directly or indirectly, by absolutely everything in their lives. Ethnographers stay open to all potential connections.

Ethnographers use many different research methods to gain insight into people, but always come back to these four core ideas.

Watch the videos below to find out more about what anthropologists do.

Doing Anthropology

Conducting an Oral History Interview

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