Ethnography is one of the most important informing traditions of interpretive research, along with phenomenology/existentialism. Anthropologists developed the ethnographic method in their study of indigenous populations. In social research in management and marketing, ethnography has been widely used in adapted forms to generate qualitative insights and to understand these phenomena from the point of view of the participants. This chapter introduces important concepts and principles that student researchers can use in their own research projects.
Chapter objectivesAfter reading this chapter students will be able to
• understand that the research tradition of ethnography is associated with cultural anthropology
• appreciate that management and marketing researchers can adapt ethnographic approaches to suit the kinds of question they need to ask
• apply some important concepts and principles of ethnographic research in student research projects
Elliott and Jankel-Elliott (2002) describe how ethnography evolved from 'armchair' sociology based on surveys and second-hand information. A view emerged that first-hand research might be a better way of understanding alien cultures. Short field trips and interviews with members of a culture became one method; much more prolonged immersion in a social group became the accepted method for some anthropologists (e.g.