Ethnography

Ethnography is manipulating people into believing that you are one of them.  Let us say I’m an ethnographer who wanted to study the fraternity culture. Just by hearing them we can all say they have their own type of lingo. We’ve all heard “brah”, and “broski”. They have secret handshakes, initiations, and probably even code words. As an ethnographer I have to learn these pass downed secrets, get involved and study them from the inside. Ethnography is learning a culture different from your own, from the inside out.

            How it works is there is an informant, who will be the person you are studying, the person you are deriving intelligence from. You will not judge this person; you will just be learning his/her ways. Being an ethnographer is tough, people lie to get ahead, people lie to mislead, people lie to avoid, and in general people lie.  So hopefully you can trust your informant after constant prying. You are the interviewer. You structure questions or “manipulate” questions to determine where the conversation is going to go.

            Ethnography studies culture. It’s what makes Chinese people different from Japanese even though they are in the same region. It makes the United States different from Great Britain even though they both speak English, and so on. It’s their ideas, customs, language, traditions that are associated with any group of people. Everyone belongs to a culture, everyone belongs to more than one, but you don’t have to completely belong.

            Micro-culture is just basically a culture within a culture. An ethnographer seeks an engaging interaction with someone from a micro-culture. They need to learn about you, your ways and put that knowledge to practice by sneaking their way into your culture. If an ethnographer has done their job correctly they will know what you do, why you do it, and be able to do it themselves.  It’s like an access pass into someone else’s business for learning purposes.

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