Discourse-oriented ethnography

Authored by: Graham Smart

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


 Download Chapter



This chapter discusses two widely practised traditions of ethnography that each offer researchers a methodology for investigating a social group's culture and discourse practices: interpretive ethnography and ethnography of communication. Here I would make an initial distinction between ethnography and case study research. While both methodologies involve ‘naturalistic’ or ‘field’ research and the intention of both is to observe and explain the social world as it is, without intervention or manipulation (to the degree that this is possible), a case study typically focuses on the experience of a small number of informants or on a single event, and an ethnography investigates the local culture of a particular social group, viewed as a collective, with the goal of producing a holistic account of its shared conceptual world. And I use the term ‘methodology’ rather than ‘method’ here with meaningful intent. While some researchers use the two terms interchangeably, others find it useful to make a distinction between them. In the latter view, a research method is a set of procedures for collecting and analysing research data, while a research methodology is a method as well as an implicit set of assumptions regarding the nature of reality (ontology) and knowledge (epistemology).

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.