Glossary Item

ethnography

Ethnography is a method of studying and learning about a person or group of people. Typically, ethnography involves the study of a small group of subjects in their own environment. Rather than looking at a small set of variables and a large number of subjects ("the big picture"), the ethnographer attempts to get a detailed understanding of the circumstances of the few subjects being studied. Ethnographic accounts, then, are both descriptive and interpretive; descriptive, because detail is so crucial, and interpretive, because the ethnographer must determine the significance of what she observes without gathering broad, statistical information. Clifford Geertz, whose thoughts about culture are excerpted in the Other Important Definitions of Culture, is famous for coining the term "thick description" in discussing the methodology of the ethnographer.

Some excellent examples of ethnographic research in anthropology can be found at:
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