Observational and Ethnographic Research

This interactive course introduces you to ethnographic methods and observation which are valuable techniques in qualitative research where the focus is on understanding in great depth the meanings, views, behaviours, beliefs and actions of a particular culture, group or organisation. Ethnography typically involves extended periods of time ‘in the field’, while participant observation and observational techniques can also be used to examine groups and cultures in a shorter time period and alongside other methods.

We also look at examples of what Wall (2004) calls ‘focused ethnography’ in order to examine how observational methods can be used in a shorter timescale than a ‘traditional’ ethnography, and in applied settings in order to understand for example organisational cultures and behaviours. I draw on my experiences of conducting ethnographic research in a range of contexts to demonstrate the benefits and drawbacks of these approaches.

This training includes practical elements such as workshop discussions, observations, writing field notes and reflecting on these.

Course Content
We typically cover:

  • The history of ethnography and participant observation
  • The principles and techniques of ethnography
  • Practicalities of fieldwork
  • An introduction to new approaches: virtual ethnography, go-along methods, sensory ethnography
  • ‘Focused ethnography’ in applied settings
  • Accessing the field, gatekeepers and building rapport
  • Recording data and field notes
  • The importance of an inductive and reflexive approach
  • The ethics of ethnographic research

This one-day course is currently delivered online via Zoom. It can also be delivered face-to-face for clients who prefer this mode of delivery.