Other ethnographic techniques

Ethnographic research is not only carried out means of participant observation and  interviewing( structured & unstructured). Some techniques are available for gathering insights into people’s world view and social relationships, and some will be briefly described.


A case-study can be carried out by using almost any methods of research and design thinking to prototype the framework of the research.

A case-study involves the in-depth study of a single example of whatever it is that the sociologist wishes to investigate. This could be an individual, a group, an event or an institution. Also in term of the researcher, who can be an individual or multidiscipline team members as well.

A case-study may prompt further, more wide-ranging research, providing ideas to be followed up later, or it may be that some broad generalization is brought to life by a case-study.

In a sense, ethnographic study is a case-study,since all such research concentrates on a relatively small group, a single institution of the service design.

The life-history (Life-story)

A type of case-study in which the intention is to interpret a person’s life using a variety of ethnographical techniques. The sociologist aims to construct the personal narrative of an individual who may be selected because he or she is remarkable in his or her own right (e.g. as an influence, in some way, on some aspect of social life) or because he or she is seen as a typical remarkable of a marginalized or “invisible”social group. We can use life-history to collect family tree data that tracks social change across time, place and generations when you conduct a research that relevant to social historical phenomena case study.

Time budgeting

No matter what kind of a research the time budgeting is crucial to it. The subjects assist the researcher by observing and recording their own activities in regard to the timing, sequence, duration and location of activities and the people with whom the activities were performed. Time budgets are able to capture the relatively informal activities that make up a person’s day such as “napping” and casual encounters, the minutiae of a person’s day that cannot easily be uncovered by interview or questionnaire.

Community studies

As we have seen, ethnographic studies aim to describe the way of life of a society or group of people. Where that group is quite small, such as a street gang, the main method of data collection used will be participant observation, interviews. While some challenge faced to researchers. The first is gaining access to the community in question. Here may be the recruitment strategy needs to be learnt. In addition, the more complex the society being studied, the more specialist groups(researchers) it is going to have.

What the roles should researchers take on? In a large community such a marginal roles may be possible, but in a village or in a small community in a large town, it is essential that the researchers be placed in some way.


Mcneill,P., Chapman,S. (2005) Research methods, third edition published by Routledge.