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Resource Methods Toolkit CO:RE at TUNI Published: 12 May 2022

Ethnography

Ethnography is an observational research method where the researcher enters a particular community or organisation to observe and somehow record behaviour and interactions. It allows the researcher to gain a deep understanding of a specific group’s culture and social dynamics. Immersing into the group gives access to the most authentic information and spontaneous activities which may not come up through inquiry. The aim of the method is to present many different aspects of the group and the setting in the form of rich narratives. The resulting report is also named ethnography. Ethnographical method is often intertwined with case study, interview or media diary method. Nowadays the ethnographic study can also be done using digital traces.

Pros

Ethnography is a good method when:

  • information cannot be collected in any other way (surveys etc.)

  • the community researched is small and easy to access

  • the researcher has enough time,

Cons

  • it is a time-consuming method (in order to become familiar with the group and the setting, one must spend weeks, more likely months, in the group.)

  • researcher bias can also be a complex challenge to overcome (it is difficult to maintain distance to analyse the group and be immersed into the group simultaneously)

  • the presence of a new person in the group may change the group dynamics (it may, for example, change the roles within the group)





  1. Attard, R., & Cremona, G. (2021). The influence of animated cartoons on primary children’s views of social reality: an ethnographic study in a Maltese primary school. Edcation 3-13. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004279.2020.1850827

  2. Mostmans, L. (2016). Internet mediation and the family gap: explorative ethnographic interviews in new family forms in Belgium. Https://Doi.Org/10.1080/17482798.2016.1222298, 10(4), 481–496. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2016.1222298

  3. Nevski, E., & Siibak, A. (2016). MEDIATION PRACTICES OF PARENTS AND OLDER SIBLINGS IN GUIDING TODDLERS’ TOUCHSCREEN TECHNOLOGY USE: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC CASE STUDY. Media Education, 7(2), 301–321. https://oaj.fupress.net/index.php/med/article/view/8765

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Authors

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Team member, CO:RE at TUNI

Iiris Tuvi

Iiris Tuvi, PhD, is a post-doctoral Research Fellow a the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences of Tampere University. She has long experience in experimental psychology and methods involving psychometrics and data analysis. Currently working on methods used to research children in digital environment. Iiris is a member of Work Package 6 team.

Tampere University
Tampere University
CO:RE at TUNI
Methods

The team at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication of TUNI identifies, develops and provides access to resources on qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods together with evaluating their validity in research practice.

These resources are collated in the CO:RE methods toolkit that cross-reference resources from the evidence base, the compass for research ethics, and the theory toolkit, to give users tools to apply to their individual research contexts.

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