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Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
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date: 21 June 2024

p. 107Ethnographylocked

p. 107Ethnographylocked

  • Chowra Makaremi


This chapter highlights ethnography, which is a method developed in the practice of ethnology, a subdiscipline of anthropology dedicated to the study of peoples using a micro-analytical and comparative perspective. Ethnographic methods such as immersion and micro-analysis have influenced qualitative research in sociology since the rise of the Chicago school of sociology. However, it is only since the 1970s that anthropologists have started to apply their research methods to their own societies. A founding principle of ethnographic knowledge lies in the notion of alterity and the idea that being an outsider to a culture may bring specific insights and questions about dimensions of social life that are interiorized as ‘natural’ and obvious by those native to that culture. What opened the path to ethnographizing one’s own society was the understanding that this productive and scientific use of alterity was not related to some intrinsic qualities of the researchers or the people they study, but to the ability to develop an estranged gaze, even on one’s own social world.

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