What, When or How is Ethnography?

If you really want to know, read the following in this order:

  1. Introduction: Correspondences: Ethnography by Susan MacDougall
  2. Provocation: Ethnography: ProvocationWe Need More Ethnography, Not Less by Andrew Shryock
  3. Interview: Enough about Ethnography: An Interview with Tim Ingoldby Susan MacDougall
  4. Article: That’s enough about ethnography! Tim INGOLD This work is licensed under the Creative Commons | © Tim Ingold. ISSN 2049-1115 (Online)

PS. I really love what Cultural Anthropology is doing with Correspondences

PPS. Don’t comment here, join us on Cultural Anthropology


Design-Oriented Ethnography

Design-Oriented Ethnography

READ: What We Buy When We Buy Design Research

WATCH: The Deep Dive Part 1 of 3

WATCH: The Deep Dive, Part 2 of 3

WATCH: The Deep Dive, Part 3 of 3

READ: Combining ethnography and object-orientation for mobile interaction design: Contextual richness and abstract models. Jesper Kjeldskovn and Jan StageInt. J. Human-Computer Studies 70 (2012) 197–217.



We are very enamored by intelligence and knowledge, but what about ignorance?  If we compare knowledge to matter than why are we only fixated on the smallest fraction of reality? Were you aware that ordinary matter comprises only about 5% of the universe while dark matter & energy make up 95%.

Firestein has written a great book about this subject.  I invite you read the introductory chapter of this book (Firestein (2012) IGNORANCE-How-It-Drives-Science. Introduction).  Additionally, you could LISTEN TO or READ: NPR blurb on Firestein (2012) IGNORANCE: How it Drive Science as well as READ: Review of IGNORANCE: How it drives science, and WATCH: TED Talk by Firestein.

I am interested in how this issue informs the The Qualitative/Quantitative Debate (Trochim).  Anthropology is typically relegated to the social sciences, which is further relegated to the insulting epithet “qualitative methods”.

The Military Industrial Complex

We Must Guard against the Hegemo-Deductive Complex

A second comparison I am making is between Eisenhower’s Military Industrial Complex and what I am calling the Hegemo-Deductive Complex.


Military Industrial Complex:  A concept used to refer to policy and  monetary relationships between legislators, armed forces, and the industrial sector that supports them. (Wikipedia)

Hegemo-Deductive Complex:  A concept used to refer to policy and methodological relationships between scientists, journal editors, and the public sector that supports them. (Jimipedia)


The Yin and Yang of Methodology 

Qualitative and quantitative techniques have their origins in inductive and deductive epistemologies.  Aside from their differences, what is most essential and often forgotten is that BOTH components are needed.


How do these issues apply to our research in anthropology?

How can ethnography be considered a truly inductive research endeavor?

PhDs and EdDs

PhDs and EdDs

Many think of PhDs as strong and EdDs as weak.  I look at it differently.  My PhD is in “Applied Anthro” so I have been dealing with these sorts of issues for some time.  Rather than a single continuum from “strong to weak” or “good to bad”, I believe a better approximation would include the two continua of “authority” and “utility”.

The authority continuum begins from the positive end indicating the commanding influence of pure academic knowledge, vetted by the elite of the intellectual community and pruned to the point of perfection.  The negative end of the authority continuum represents the least reliable, spurious opinion that is equivalent to a random response.

The utility continuum begins from the positive end indicating such an extreme version of usefulness as to approach the status of “required” or “that which one cannot live without”. The negative end of the utility continuum represents a level of inutility as to represent something without any value whatsoever.

In this way, four options become available:

I. Our Doctoral Program/its dissertations, which balance authority with utility.

II. PhD dissertations/programs that represent the pinnacle of authority but are often not very applicable to the real world.

III. Academic BA (e.g., Anthropology). Not very useful or authoritative in and of itself. 

IV. Professional BA (e.g., engineering) or Terminal MA (e.g., MSW).


Visual Representations, Typologies & Taxonomies

Visual Representations, Typologies & Taxonomies

-Visual Representations of data

The Infographic

Rationale: Why use this sort of “fancy stuff”?  Are we here to learn or to be “sold a bill of goods”!!  Is there any steak in all this sizzle?  What about “chalk and talk”, bla bla bla

Column Five Media, is in fact a design firm specialising in social Public Relations.  Isn’t that a bad thing???  Well, if you buy into Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences ideas or just basic neurology, than you may see some value here (for K-12 or higher ed!).

This video sells the idea better than I can (a design firm produced it after all) http://vimeo.com/29684853#

Illustration: This is a link to an infographic that came from an Educause study about students and technology.  http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERS1208/EIG1208.pdf.


Information Design Visualisations

David McCandless: Data journalist

Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html

Visit David McCandless’ web page:




Michael Watts, “The Holy Grail: In Pursuit of the Dissertation Proposal.” (2001)

-Michael Watts, “The Holy Grail: In Pursuit of the Dissertation Proposal.” (2001, Regents of the

University of California, 12 pp.)  [Seminar Moderator:   Jim  ]

Available online: http://iis.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/InPursuitofPhD.pdf  

Highlights of Watts’ “The Holy Grail…”


Powerpoint on Watts

Focus Group Summary and Activity (Morgan)

Notes are located here:


Design an outline of a study which incorporates the following use of a focus group:

  • Self-Contained Focus Group (p18)
  • Linking Focus Groups and Individual Interviewing (p22)
  • Linking Focus Groups and Participant Observation (p23)
  • Linking Focus Groups and Surveys (p25)
  • Linking Focus Groups and Experiments (p28)

Be sure to include the following:

  • A research question(s)
  • A brief methodology
  • A plan for analysis of your collected data