Ethnographic Research Methods (Complete with Examples)

Ethnographic Research Methods - When we speak the problem of research methods, the crossed in our minds is whether it is quantitative research, qualitative, or combination research (mixed methods).

Qualitative research is a study that uses natural background, with the intent of interpreting the phenomenon occurring and carried out by way of the various methods involved (Denzin and Lincoln in Moleong, 2012:5).

Ethnographic Research

In other words, qualitative research is a study using a naturalistic approach to finding and discovering the Pangertian or understanding of phenomena in a specific context.

Definition of Ethnographic Research

The methods of ethnographic research are included in qualitative research methods. The word ethnography comes from the Greek word ethos which means ethnic and graphos meaning something written.

According to Emzir (2012:18) ethnography is the science of the people of the nation, using more contemporary language, ethnography can be interpreted as writing about cultural groups. According to Ary, DKK (2010:459) ethnography is an in-depth study of natural behaviors in a culture or whole social group.

Its own culture according to LeCompte et al (in Creswell, 2012:462) is everything related to human behavior and beliefs. It includes language, ritual, economics, and political structure, life stages, interactions, and communication styles.

Ethnographic Research Methods (Complete with Examples)
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So it can be concluded that ethnographic research is a qualitative study that examines the life of a group/society scientifically aimed at studying, describing, analyzed, and interpreting the group's cultural patterns in terms of behavior, beliefs, language, and shared views.

Use of Ethnographic Research

Creswell (2012:462) explains that one performs ethnographic research when the group's research is able to provide an understanding of a broad problem.

A person performs ethnography when it has a group to learn to share cultures and has been together for some time and develops the values of togetherness, trust, and language. The person will capture the rules of conduct such as when the teacher has an informal relationship gathered in the favorite place to socialize (tax & Blase in Creswell, 2012:462).

Ethnography is able to provide detailed information about daily activities, such as the thought and activity of the Committee to find a new principal (Wolcott, in Creswell, 2012:462). When conducting ethnography, researchers have long-term access to share cultures within the group so as to create detailed records of group member behavior and beliefs over time.

Historical development of ethnographic research

The ethnography that is practiced in the educational world has been formed by cultural anthropology, with an emphasis on issues related to cultural writing, and how ethnographic reports need to be read and understood today.

These factors are at the heart of understanding the latest practices in ethnography (Bogdan & Biklen, 1998: Denzin, 1997: LeCompte et al., 1993: Walcott, 1999, in Creswell, 2012:462).

The roots of educational ethnography lie in cultural anthropology. At the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, anthropologists reviewed the "primitive" cultures through visits to other countries and struggled with the community for a long period of time.

They shun themselves from "being native" (indigenous people) and identifying themselves closely with people they care about so they can write an "objective" story about what they see and hear.

At certain times, these stories are compared to other cultures far away in other continents, especially with the American ways of living. For example, Margareth Mead, a prominent anthropologist, examines childcare, youth, and cultural influences on personality in Samoa (Mead, in Creswell, 2012:463).

Observations and interviews became a standard procedure for "on-the-ground" data collection. Sociologists at the University of Chicago in the 1920-00s to 1950s, conducting research focused on the importance of research on a single case whether it's the case of a larger individual, group, neighbor, or cultural unit.

The early interdisciplinary study of anthropology began to crystallize during the 1950 's years and continued until the 1980s (LeCompte et al., in Creswell, 2012:463). Education anthropologists focus themselves on sub-groups of cultures, such as:
  • The story of the career journey and the life or analysis of individual roles;
  • Microetnographic about working groups and hobby groups in small scale;
  • Studies on single classes that are abstracted as communities in small groups;
  • Studies on school facilities or educational facilities that are approaching these units as a discrete society (separate) (LeCompte et al., in Creswell, 2012:463).

In such research, educational ethnographers develop and refine procedures borrowed from anthropology and sociology. From 1980 to this age, anthropologists and educational anthropologists have identified techniques to focus on cultural groups, observe, analyze data, and write research reports.

The event that restricts ethnography, according to Denzin (in Creswell, 2012:463), is a publication of a book entitled Writing Culture (Clifford & Marcus, 1986).  The ethnographers have "written in their own Way" (Denzin, 1997, p. xvii) Since then in accordance with the book's content.

Clifford a Marcus raised two issues that greatly attracted many people to ethnography in general and in the field of educational research. First related to the representation crisis. The crisis consisted of a revaluation of how ethnographers provide an interpretation of their meticulous groups.

Denzin argues that we can no longer see the researcher as an objective reporter who makes the omnipresent statements (present everywhere) about the individuals he has examined. In contrast, researchers are merely a voice of many voices individuals such as readers, participants, and gate-keepers (guardians) to be heard. This triggered a second crisis: legitimacy.

The "excuses" of the validity, reliability, and objectivity of "normal science" can no longer represent the standard. Researchers need to evaluate each ethnographic study within the flexible standard boundaries inherent in the lives of participants, historical and cultural influences; and interactive forces sourced from the race, gender, and class.

Judging from this side, ethnography needs to incorporate perspective based on feministic thoughts, racial-based views, sex perspectives, and critical theories, and sensitivity to race, class, and gender. Ethnography today becomes "messy" (Cart Marut) and eventually presents itself in various forms such as (art) performances, poetry, dramas, novels, or personal narratives (Denzin in Creswell, 2012:463).

Types of Ethnographic Design

According to Creswell (2012:464) Ethnographic research has a variety of forms. However, the main types that often appear in educational research reports are realist ethnography, case studies, and critical ethnography

1. Realist ethnography
Realist ethnography is a popular approach used by cultural anthropologists. Described by Van Maanen in Creswell (2012:464) ethnography reflects a certain attitude taken by researchers on the individual being studied.

Realist ethnography is an objective view of the situation, usually written in a third-person perspective, reporting objectively about the information learned from the research objects on-site (Creswell, 2012:464). In this realist ethnography:
  • ethnographer recounts research from a third-person standpoint, participants ' observation reports, and their views. Ethnographer does not write his personal opinion on the research report and remains behind the scenes as a reporter covering the facts.
  • Researchers report objective data in a form of measured information, not contaminated by bias, political objectives, and personal judgment. Researchers can describe daily life in detail among the people being researched. Ethnographers also use the standard categories for cultural descriptions (e.g. family life, work-life, social networking, and status systems).
  • ethnographer produces the view of participants through an edited quote without changing its meaning and has a conclusion in the form of interpretation and cultural presentation (Van Maanen in Creswell, 2012:464).

2. Case study
The term case study is often used in conjunction with ethnography. Case studies are one of the important parts of ethnography, although they differ from ethnography in certain respects. Case studies researchers focused on programs, events, or activities involving individuals and are not groups (Stake in Creswell, 2012:465).

When researchers conduct group research, they may be more interested in describing group activities instead of identifying behavioral patterns indicated by the group. The ethnographers jointly conduct a thriving search as a group that interacts over time.

At the beginning of his research, researchers tended to identify cultural themes. One of its main concerns is anthropology, but they are only focused on the deep exploration of the actual "case " (Yin in Creswell, 2012:465).

Types of Ethnographic Design
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Although some researchers identify "case " as a study object (Stake in Creswell,2012:465), others consider it as an investigatory procedure (for example, Merriam, 1998). Case studies are an in-depth exploration of limited systems (e.g. activities, events, processes, or individuals) based on extensive data collection (Creswell, 2007).

Bounded means that the case is separate from other things in terms of time, place, or physical boundaries. Thus, the results of the research obtained only apply to objects that are researched and cannot be generalized in other objects even though they are still similar.

Some of the things that are considered in determining the types of cases that will be studied in qualitative research, among others:
  1. Whether the case is experienced by an individual, some individuals separately or in groups, programs, activities, or activities (for example, teachers, some teachers, or the adoption of a new mathematical program).
  2. The "case" is a process consisting of a series of steps (e.g., a college curriculum process) that forms a sequence of activities.
  3. A case is selected for investigation because it is something unusual and benefits, following its divisions:

  • intrinsic case, if the case studied in-depth contains interesting things to be learned derived from the case itself, or can be said to contain intrinsic interest.
  • Instrumental Case (instrumental case), if the case is studied deeply because the results will be used to correct or refine existing theories or to compose a new theory. This can be said to be an instrumental case study, an interest in learning it is beyond its case or external interest.
  • Collective case (collective case), is where some cases are described and compared to providing insight into the problem. A case study researcher might examine several schools to illustrate an alternative approach to school choices for students.
  • Researchers strive to develop a deep understanding of the case by collecting various forms of data (e.g. images, clippings, videos, and e-mails). The explanation provides a thorough understanding of some good case requirements to be learned because researchers have time constraints to devote and explore the depth of a case to be examined.
  • Researchers also look at cases in broader contexts, such as geography, politics, social, or economics (e.g., family constellations consisting of grandparents, siblings, and adopting family members).


3. Critical ethnography
Critical ethnography is a type of ethnographic study in which writers are interested in championing the emancipation of the Group in society (Thomas in Creswell, 2012:467).

Critical researchers usually think and seek through their research, advocate against inequality and domination (Carspecken & Apple in Creswell, 2012:467).

For example, a critical ethnographer examines a school that provides facilities for a specific student, creates an unfair situation among different social class members, and allows gender discrimination.

The main components of critical ethnography are factors such as value-laden orientation, empowering communities by giving more authority, challenging the status quo, and worries about power and control (Madison in Creswell, 2012: 467). These factors include

  1. Investigating the social problems of power, empowerment, inequality, injustice, domination, repression, hegemony, and casualties.
  2. The researchers perform critical ethnography so that their research does not further UNDERGIRB the individual being studied. As such, the readers collaborate, actively participate, and cooperate in the writing of the final report. Critical ethnographic researchers are expected to be cautious in entering and leaving research venues, as well as providing feedbacks.
  3. Ethnographic researchers provide a conscious understanding, acknowledging that interpretation reflects our own history and culture. Interpretation can only be temporary and depends on how participants will see it.
  4. Critical researchers position themselves and are aware of their role in the writing of research reports.
  5. This position is not neutral for critical researchers, this means that critical ethnography will be the advocate of change to help transform our society so that there is no more oppressed and dispossessed.
  6. In the end, critical ethnographic reports will become cluttered, multilevel, multilevel approaches for investigation, full of contradictions, unthinkable, and tension (Denzin, in Creswell, 2012:467).

Ethnographic Advantages and disadvantages

Gall (2003:494-495) found some of the advantages and disadvantages of ethnographic research.

1. The advantages
One of the most valuable aspects produced by ethnographic research is its depth. Since researchers have been for a long time, researchers see what people are doing as well as what they say. Researchers can gain an in-depth understanding of people, organizations, and broader contexts.

Field researchers develop an intimate familiarity with the dilemma, frustration, routines, relationships, and risks that are part of everyday life. The deep power of ethnography is the most "profound" or "intensive".

The knowledge of what is happening in the field can provide important information for the formulation of research assumptions. Briefly, the excess use of ethnographic research is described below, as follows:
  • Generate deep understanding. Because what is sought in this study is not the apparent thing, but it is contained in the visible
  • Obtaining or obtaining data from a major source means having a high rate of falter.
  • Generate rich descriptions, specific and detailed explanations
  • Researchers interact directly with social communities to be researched.
  • Assisting the ability of interaction because it demands the ability to socialize in the culture that he tried to explain.

2. Weakness
One of the main disadvantages of ethnographic research is that it takes a longer time than any other form of research. It not only takes a long time to do fieldwork, but it also takes a long time to analyze the material obtained from the research.

For most people, this means extra time. Another drawback of ethnographic research is that the scope of its research is not extensive. The ethnography of a study is usually just one cultural organization.

Even these limitations are the common criticism of ethnographic research, this study simply leads to a profound knowledge of context and certain situations. Briefly, the weakness of ethnographic research use is explained below, as follows:
  • The assessment perspective is likely influenced by the cultural tendency of researchers.
  • It requires a long period of time to collect data and manage data.
  • The influence of the culture researched can affect the psychological researchers, when the researcher returned its original culture.
  • Researchers who do not have socialization skills, there is a possibility of rejection, from the community to be researched.

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