How to Write An Ethnography

The essential components to write an ethnography not an article!

Writing a journal or article is not the same as writing an ethnography. An ethnography is a lengthy written description that brings awareness and creates an understanding of social patterns in a cultural context. Ethnography are utilized by social scientists, such as, anthropologist and sociologist, to present their fieldwork to a larger audience. Although, the works of journalist and social scientist are often compared because they both observe and examine human behaviors and experiences, ethnography are unique in that they can relate their finding to social theories and provide rich content with layers of research.

To write a basic ethnography you need these five essential parts:

A thesis. The thesis establishes the central theme and message of your research study. This will help organize your paper and integrate it around a single major idea. It will also help the reader to identify the importance of the cultural pattern you have studied. It can be one to two sentences longs.

Literature Review. A literature review is an analysis of previous research now on your research topic. This will help you gather background information to enable better understanding of the significance about your research topic. Within your analysis of each article you must examine the topic of study, research methods, research results, strengths and weaknesses, and how your research study will contribute to this research. Depending on the desire length of your ethnography, you should include one to five research articles on your research topic.

Data Collection. The data collection is an explanation of the methods you used to gather your quantitative and/or qualitative data. This will help establish reliability and validity in your research design.

Data Analysis. The data analysis is the interpretation of your data you collected. This will help provide a sense of meaning to your data and relate it to your thesis. In addition, you should provide a social theoretical interpretation of your results. Depending on your data and audience wants, includes graphs of your data.

Reflexivity. Reflexivity is when you discuss your personal reasons for doing research project and what limitations you came across during the research project. This will help eliminate any type of bias the audience may assume about your personal investment in the research study and clear up any misunderstanding in your data. Furthermore, distinguish how your research study contributes to your field of study.

This rubric is based off of my personal experiences conducting social research in my sociology and anthropology college coursework. Your ethnography does not need to written this academically straight forward, but it should includes these components. The ethnography Fado Resounding is a great example of writing creatively about a cultural phenomenon and writing for an audience outside the academic sphere. Fado Resounding “argues for the power of musical genre to sediment, circulate, and transform affect, sonorously rendering history and place as soulful and feeling as public” (Gray, 2013). The researcher, Lila Ellen Gray, displays this argument utilizing qualitative data. The qualitative data Gray presents are interviews, historical analysis, and song lyrics. In addition, throughout the book Gray makes references to other social research that has examine the elements of her research topic. The ethnography contributes to the field of media and communication because it discusses how fado music genre has spread locality, nationality, and international.

After I am done conducting fieldwork on my research topic, I too will be writing an ethnography. My ethnography will be examining the understanding of gentrification and displacement in the particular neighborhood of Station North in Baltimore City, Maryland. At the moment, I am gathering qualitative data through interviews and historical records but I feel in the near future I will need to collect quantitative data to support the claims of my interviewees.

Currently, time feels like my biggest limitation. Time is another factor the separates journals, articles, and ethnography. You need time to gather and transcribe layers of research. To write a detailed ethnography, like Fado Resounding, Gray conducted ten years of research. I sadly only have four months.