Ethnographic research – Purpose and Importance in Thesis Writing

Ethnographic research is a sort of qualitative study that entails becoming involved in a particular community or group to closely watch its members’ behaviour and interconnections. The written summary of the ethnographic research is also referred to as “ethnography.” An in-depth understanding of a group’s common culture, traditions, and social dynamics can be attained through the adaptable research approach of ethnography. However, there are certain moral and practical difficulties. Therefore, this article will discuss the purpose and importance of ethnographic research in thesis writing.

What is ethnographic research?

Ethnographic research uses a socio-cultural perspective to investigate how individuals live in their societies. Ethnography has its roots in anthropological studies that examine the socio-cultural facets of remote little settlements in other nations. The researchers live among the locals to better comprehend the shared culture of these people. So, in their field locations, the traditional anthropologists are outsiders. It frequently takes them years to fully immerse themselves in the community’s culture. Researchers have to acquire the language required for interacting with the locals and comprehending their customs, traditions, conventions, and behaviours for conducting their research.

Ethnographic research can be conducted in various settings, including formal and informal groups like enterprises, urban areas, fan clubs, trade shows, marketplaces, and social networking sites. However, the primary objective of ethnographers generally stays the same. To monitor and evaluate how individuals interact with one another and their surroundings to comprehend their culture.

What are the two main perspectives in ethnographic research?

Ethnographic research encompasses the two major paradigms, which are as follows:

Emic Perspective

Ethnographers aim to understand a particular culture through an emic standpoint or the locals’ viewpoint. It implies that they attempt to view the culture under study from within, using the meanings its participants create daily. Ethnographers avoid putting theoretical and conceptual paradigms on empirical evidence at the start of the research process. Ethnographic research conducted from an emic perspective also considers the language factor, which helps the researcher understand how a given culture creates meaning for its adherents.

Etic Perspective

A new researcher who is more accustomed to the etic perspective may find it challenging to comprehend the emic perspective. A researcher who adopts an etic perspective views culture primarily via theoretical lenses. You can still stress emic and etic viewpoints in various ways throughout your study, even though researchers frequently blend them at some point in their work.

What is the Purpose and Importance of Ethnographic research in thesis writing?

Ethnographic research aims to persuade the reader that the observations and inferences you generated are accurate depictions of reality by offering a thorough, authentic description of the social context in which you were immersed. Compared to other study approaches, ethnography frequently adopts a more humane attitude. An ethnography frequently needs to address your individual experiences and sentiments during the investigation because of the work’s integrated orientation.

In ethnography, understanding different cultures are crucial. People from different cultures occasionally engage in behaviours that are not just dissimilar from our own but also behaviours that we would categorically label as strange and bizarre without considering the source of the difference. Therefore, ethnographic research helps us appreciate the differences and learn to accommodate them by respecting the values and sentiments of people from other cultures. It deconstructs the stereotypical notions about different cultures generated during the colonial era. Ethnography helps researchers understand the importance of cultural relativism and move beyond the binaries of “Us” versus “Them”. The binary character of perceiving cultures often revolves around the notion of “Civilised” versus “Barbaric” cultures. However, ethnographic research helps us gain deep insights into different cultures’ values and the construction of meaning. We realise that these notions are just arbitrary and a product of power imbalances.

Cultural anthropologist pioneer Franz Boas emphasised that cultural differences were the root of the distinctive development of various societies. This viewpoint is contrary to the presumption of linear evolutionists: Western society was the ultimate expression of culture and civilisation on the principle that Western cultures evolved over time and that the “Others” were a part of societies that were somehow less evolved and henceforth barbaric. Anthropologists used Boas’ concept of cultural relativism—that each culture should be evaluated in light of its own presumptions—and many still adhere to it today.

What are the different approaches in ethnographic research?

Three methodological aspects of ethnographic research exist, each with a distinct conceptual foundation. The realist theoretical approach, which looks for an accurate or true representation of the world, is where “naturalism” started. Understanding and induction, in turn, are connected to the social constructivism study approach, which contends that there are various explanations or interpretations of reality. The veracity of which relies on what we take to be true and how we go about proving it. Utilising these three different approaches for your dissertation might not be an easy task. Therefore, you can always take assistance from PhD Dissertation Writing Services, who are experts in ethnographic research.


In accordance with naturalism, the study’s goal is to document the impartial character of normally recurring human behaviour. The claim is that this can only be accomplished through extensive, first-hand interaction, not via anything individuals do in contrived or controlled contexts or during interviews. Because of this, ethnographers conduct their research in already present environments without the researcher’s intervention.

Additionally, they try to explain social occurrences and phenomena in terms of how they relate to the environment in which they occur. As per naturalism, objective representation demands that you have as little impact as possible on the actions of the investigated subjects.


One argument against naturalism is that you can only explain human behaviour if you are familiar with the culture in which it is occurring. It becomes fairly evident if you study something foreign to you. However, some ethnographers contend that it is equally crucial when researching settings that are more known to you.


Ethnographers support an inductive approach that emphasises indigenous interpretations. It is contended that a researcher may miss out on learning about a community’s unique and contextual characteristics. If they approach it with a predetermined set of theoretical frameworks, notions, or hypotheses.


Ethnographic research focuses on the insider perspective with an emphasis on culture and social values. Interpretation, comprehension, and representation are the main focuses of ethnography. Different philosophical foundations are utilised by researchers, such as naturalism, understanding, and induction, to generate deep insights. 

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