Creswell (1998) described that an ethnography is a description and interpretation of a cultural or social group or system. The objects of observations or under examinations include observable and learned patterns of behavior, customs, and ways of life. The inquiry process consists of :
Any kinds of research studies involve a learning process. As a key
instrument in the study, an ethnographer has to equip herself with an
insider's view, with extensive communication with the observed, and
with continuous discourses with other scholars and herself. In other
words, the researcher needs to engage in dynamic participation and self-examination.
To ensure quality and accuracy of the data, researchers need to employ the strategies of multiple sources, methods, investigators and theories (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Researchers also need to recognize the inevitability of subjectivity. Fetterman (1989) say patterns of thought and behavior are "a form" of ethnographic reliability. If we agree with Fetterman, the establishment of such reliability can lie in close examination of the interwoven strands in every event from different aspects to identify the patterns.
In the participant observations where the researcher works directly with people under study, the ethical issues are embedded in all aspects of the communication in the field. Fetterman (1998) pointed out central ethical codes to ethnographers: doing no harm to people or the community under study, respect for the rights of the people, for integrity of the data, and for people's way of life. Researchers should not impose superiority over the people under study. Researchers should understand that his or her role is not to judge but to learn.
What are under examination in ethnography?
Creswell (1998) also described the general structure of ethnography as follows:
Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Fetterman, D. M. (1998). Ethnography: Step by step. 2nd edition. Newbury Park, CA: Sage..
Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E., G. (2000). Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions and emerging confluences. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed., pp. 163-188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stack, C. (1974). All our kin: Strategies for survival in a black community. New York, NY: Haper & Row, Publishers.