Ethnography and Autoethnography

Ethnography is characterised by extended periods of fieldwork, in which the researcher spends a considerable amount of time observing the events and interactions taking place in the normal everyday activities of the individuals within a particular community. The aim of researchers carrying engaged in an ethnographic approach is exploration of the links which exist between various social, cultural and psychological aspects of the community being studied. From their observations they interpret and construct meanings from what they observe.

Autoethnography involves reflection of the individual’s own personal experiences within a particular context, with the aim of critically examining the socio-cultural narratives within which their life is embedded. It is this critical analysis where personal experience is related to theoretical constructs that takes it to the level of a critical research method.

Sources of further information:

An overview of ethnography in healthcare and medical education research, Goodson, L. and Vassar, M.

Ethnography in qualitative educational research, Reeves, S. et al.

Autoethnography: An Overview, Ellis, C. Adams, T.E. & Arthur P. Bochner

Video: Autoethnography in Qualitative Inquiry - Professor Carolyn Ellis and Professor Arthur Buchner

Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject - Professor Carolyn Ellis and Professor Arthur Buchner

Writing the self into research: Using grounded theory analytic strategies in autoethnography, Pace, S.

Autoethnography in Health Research: Growing Pains? Chang, H.

Performing Autoethnography: An Embodied Methodological Praxis, Spry, T.

The Use of Autoethnography in Educational Research: Locating Who we are in what we Dd, Starr, L.J.

Some examples of autoethnographies: 

Boylorn, R. M. (2008). As seen on TV: An autoethnographic reflection on race and reality television. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 25, 413–433.

Herrmann, A. F. (2012). “I know I’m unlovable”: Desperation, dislocation, despair, and discourse on the academic job hunt. Qualitative Inquiry, 18, 247–255.

Nick Trujillo, “In Search of Naunny’s History: Reproducing Gender Ideology in Family Stories.” Women’s Studies in Communication 25 (2002): 88–118.

Bochner, A. P. (2001). Narrative’s virtues. Qualitative Inquiry, 7, 131–157.