1. Ethnographic study is very comprehensive, and relating the data comprises placing observations and interview data into a bigger viewpoint. A central belief of ethnography is that people’s behavior is context specific; which means that when the data is being analyzed the ethnographer cannot separate essentials of human behavior from their related circumstance of idea and significance. In reality it is this context that provides for the understanding of human behavior. The ethnographer needs to do more than just describe human behavior; they ought to understand why the behavior takes place and under what circumstances. The hallmark of ethnographic research is fieldwork where the ethnographer has to work with people in their natural setting very closely for a long duration.
Observing the participant characterizes most ethnographic research and it is vital to successful fieldwork. Participants are observed by maintaining some distance by the ethnographer that allows for sufficient observation and data recording. How the ethnographer collects, sorts, and processes the data to come up with patterns of the whole depends on the focus of the ethnography and the ethnographer’s preferences and skills. The aim of this process is to restructure the data in a useful and logical fashion, putting it together into evocative relationships, patterns, and categories. The ethnographer presents a comprehensive conception of a social group within its relevant contexts of meaning and purpose.2. Spontaneous: Ethnography has a spontaneous quality, which means that the ethnographer is a member of the social group that he or she is studying and are affected by it. In order to explain the characteristics spontaneous, authors Hammersley and Atkinson (1983) observed that the distinction between science and common sense, between the activities of the researcher and those of the researched, lies at the heart of both positivism and naturalism.
They suggested that both (extreme) positions “assume that it is possible, in principle at least, to isolate a body of data uncontaminated by the researcher, either by turning a body of data uncontaminated by the researcher, either by turning him or her into an automaton or by making him or her a neutral vessel of cultural experience” (p.14). The data collected by the ethnographer is not taken at the face value, but as an alternative considers it as a field of inferences in which theoretical patterns can be known and tested.
The ethnography process consists of participant observation partly and partly of interview. The combination of observation and interview leads to spontaneity. According to Werner and Schoepfle (1987):”As ethnographers, we try to do more than just describe the cultural knowledge of the native. We try to understand and, if possible, explain. We need to be able to explain how the natives could possibly view the world as they do.
The paradox of this situation, is that all description, understanding, and explanation of the natives’ cultural knowledge is based fundamentally on two disparate, incompletely, transmittable, presumptive systems of knowledge –the knowledge of the native and the knowledge of the ethnographer” (p. 60). They also observed that this blend of insider/outsider provides deeper insights that are possible by the native alone or an ethnographer alone. Both the views put together produce a third dimension that rounds out the ethnographic picture. Thus good ethnography produces theory from the spontaneity nature of the ethnographic experience. A good ethnography is always more than just description-it is a theoretical explanation. The intensity and supremacy of the theory differ according to the scope and focus of the ethnography.3.
Emics and Etics: The most common terms in ethnography are emics and etics, and they are associated directly to spontaneity. The emic perspective is defined as the insider’s view or the informant’s view of reality and is the heart of ethnographic research. The emic perspective is important to understand the behaviors of the participants. The outsider’s perspective is called as etic which reveals the researchers abstractions, or the scientific explanation of reality. Both the viewpoints are important in helping the ethnographer understand why members of that particular group do what they do, and both are important if the ethnographer is to understand and accurately explain situations and behaviors. The viewpoints help ethnographer develop theoretical interpretations. The term native was used by prior researchers to refer to the people they studied, and they wrote about the emic point of view.
But recently the objective of ethnographies has widened to include other kinds of social groups; the term informant has been used widely to explain members of a sample. Researchers who are interested to know the informants view point use cognitive methods to collect, interpret and give meaning to interview data. Researchers who are interested in scientific framework use etic approach and collect data by observing the informants and by carrying out informal interview.