Ethnography: More Than the Written Field Note

  • Lisa Russell (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Distinct from other qualitative approaches due to its unique focus, process and output (Wolcott 1999) ethnography is one of the most amenable research methodologies and research products within educational research; it is also one of the most contested. There are continual debates about how educational ethnographies should be conducted and presented (Walford, 2008). Recent deliberations encourage the use of visual research methods, participatory techniques and creative means of gathering data. This paper argues that while the importance of the traditional written field note remains as a means of gathering, interpreting and presenting ethnographic data, other methodologies and products offer exciting additions to the absolute need to ‘hang around’ and ‘spend time’ in the field to inductively explore the everyday life of participants in one or more spheres. The depth and insight that observational data can make to an ethnographic study is difficult to gain via other research methods (Seymour-Smith 1986). However, ethnography’s multi-method approach to research means that while observation is a useful tool that always feature in the ethnography’s armoury, it is only one of the many tools that an ethnographer has at their disposal. Visual, and participatory, methods are increasingly becoming a prevalent feature of ethnography, especially when researching with young people and children and is thought to be a useful tool, when reflexively implemented, to unearth children’s ‘voice’ (Clark and Moss 2001; Coates 2004).

Period19 Sep 2016
Event titleOxford Ethnography and Education Conference 2016
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational