The Handbook of Ethnography

By Coffey, Amanda; Atkinson, Paul et al. | Anthropologica, July 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Handbook of Ethnography

Coffey, Amanda, Atkinson, Paul, Delamont, Sara, Lofland, John, Lofland, Lyn, Anthropologica

Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland and Lyn Lofland (eds.), The Handbook of Ethnography, London: Sage, 2002, xviii + 507 pages.

Rather surprisingly The Handbook of Ethnography, edited by three British and two American sociologists, arrives hot on the heels of another sociological Handbook devoted to ethnography. This earlier one edited by Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln is in its second edition (1994, 2000) and in the preparation stages for its third. Both handbook efforts are encyclopedic in their scope mainly featuring writings by sociologists and anthropologists, while the Atkinson et al volume also adds assorted other disciplines. While the earlier Handbook relies mainly on American scholars, the more recent volume claims that "international excellence was our primary criterion" (p. 1) for the selection of authors. The cast includes 21 British, 20 American and 2 each of Dutch, Finnish and Australian academies, comprising 31 sociologists, 9 anthropologists, 4 education scholars and one each from folklore, women's studies and the philosophy of science. seemingly aware that the comparison between the two handbooks would be unavoidable, the editors offer a critique of the earlier volume(s), indicating that their own intention is to distance themselves from "the five (six) moments model of Lincoln and Denzin" ... [which] "can do violence to the complexities of research and its historical development"... [such] a chronological, and linear view of development. . .is in danger of doing a disservice to earlier generations of ethnographers" (pp. 2-3). While these differences do not appear thunderous at first glance, reading all of the chapters leaves one with a clear sense of the strong support offered for the classic ethnography, not through proclaiming its familiar canons, but rather through displaying its multifaceted progeny, deep diversities, multiplicity of methods and broad applicability. Intriguing as the question of differences between the two parallel volumes may be, the Atkinson et al volume stands on its own as a worthy addition to the gargantuan growth in the discourses on ethnography.

The editors hope to present a "tour d'horizon of ethnographic methods and ethnographic research in the social sciences" (p. 1) in an undertaking that they readily agree is diffuse and beyond the ambitions of any single volume. To accomplish this they organize thirty-three diffuse chapters into three sections. The first section explores the origins of ethnography, various "intellectual and substantive contexts," differences in disciplinary and national orientations and seminal conceptual theoretical strands involved in ethnographic thinking. To meet these ends there are rich offerings on the Chicago school of ethnography (Mary Jo Deegan), the ethnographic roots of symbolic interactionism (Paul Rock), an overview of the ethnographic commitments of British social anthropology (Sharon Macdonald) and American cultural anthropology (James Faubion). To these are added the ethnography-centred works in community studies of various kinds (Lodewijk Brunt) and the less-well known fieldwork methods of the Mass-Observation studies of Britain (Liz Stanley). The section is rounded out by those theoretical and analytic propositions and assumptions that have come to be associated with ethnographic work-the Orientalism problematic, so much in the very fibre of anthropological thought (Julie Marcus), the basic contributions of phenomenology (Ilja Maso), ethnomethodology (MeMn Pollner and Robert Emerson), semiotics and semantics (Peter Manning) and grounded theory (Kathy Charmaz and Richard G. Mitchell).

The second section is devoted to "distinctive domains of ethnographic research," those locales where ethnographic work has contributed definitive knowledge or shaped the academic portrait of the cultures involved. These are the ethnographies of health and medicine (Michael Bloor), educational settings (Tuula Gordon, Janet Holland and Elina Lahehna), deviance (Dick Hobbs), science and technology (David Hess), childhood (Allison James), material culture (Christopher Tilley), cultural studies (Joost Van Loon), communication (Elizabeth Keating), work (Vicki Smith) and photography and film (Mike Ball and Greg Smith). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

The Handbook of Ethnography


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.