Tag Archives: ethnography

Week 7 Lifestream Summary

Last week I was desperately short of time and I’m still catching up with some of the secondary readings and videos from the Community Cultures block, as well as trying to find some time to engage with my fellow student’s end of block artefacts.

The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

My main take-out from last week was definitely an appreciation for how much can be gained from observing an online community from within and the similarities between this and participant observation in the the ‘real world’ where the “researcher engaged in participant observation tries to learn what life is like for an ‘insider’ while remaining, inevitably, an ‘outsider’.” (Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide).

I also spent some time thinking about my work role and the Learning Community I manage, how much I’m the instigator of the ‘cultural norms’ (Kozinets, R.V. 2010) that exist within its discussion forums, how many of these ‘norms’ I’ve created for my own convenience and how much of this is simply an attempt to lead by example.

I was relieved to receive some positive feedback from Jeremy on my ethnography write up, as I was concerned that some of it was wide of the mark in terms of the way it should be presented.   Many description of ethnography call for ‘rich’ or ‘thick’ narrative; telling the story from arrival and first contact to becoming embedded in the community’s culture.  With so little community to comment on this was always going to be a difficult task.  However, I think the finished artefact ticks many of the boxes in this description of ‘How to do ethnography ‘Nursing Research Using Ethnography: Qualitative Designs and Methods in Nursing’

“An ethnographic report includes clear and thick description of research methodology, including of people who participated in the study and the experiences and processes observed during the study.” […] “The researchers prejudices and biases are also highlighted.”


Mack, N. et al (2005) Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide, Family Health International

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online.

De Chesnay, M (2015), Nursing Research Using Ethnography: Qualitative Designs and Methods in Nursing, Chapter 5, Springer Publishing Company, LLC

TWEET: Ethnography ‘watch outs’

This definitely struck a chord with me.

These days it seems we distance ourselves from and ‘sanitise’ so much of life.  We package meat and other food in ways that disguises its origins to such an extent that some children have no idea where it comes from.  Society distances itself from mental health issues, ‘perverse’ sexuality and beliefs that do not conform to the norm.  In many parts of the developed world we live our lives behind closed doors, a long way from the close-knit communities of our history.

So, yes, I can see how complete immersion in the culture of a community is essential to really understand it.

That got me thinking about the word immersion and how much more of a visceral and ‘real’ experience baptism by total immersion must be compared to the sanitised and symbolic ritual many Christian churches observe.  To me that feels like a great example of understanding through immersion, in a very literal sense.

Getting an ‘insiders’ view of digital education was one of the reasons I decided to complete this Masters course.  Studying the topics I have has proved useful in my day job, but some of the most useful insights have come from being a distance learning, digital student.  All along I’ve been ‘doing ethnography’ and didn’t know it!

TWEET: Ellen Isaacs Ethnography TED talk

This humorous and well presented talk provides some useful insights into they ways ethnography can improve understanding and identify opportunities.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it”