Dilemma concerning ethnography

I plan to make use of ethnography and am presently in the process of understanding how to “cover my bases” and be as transparent as possible and today’s class seemed to help a lot in this respect. Previously, I had come across some articles which addressed issues concerning ethnography that stated that it is a method which is not regarded to have as high a standing as certain other methods. And it is not just ‘quant’ researchers who have such views but ‘qual’ people share similar ideas. It has to be always substantiated by statistical calculations or concrete qualitative analysis. One of the basic reasons for this is the bias that a researcher or group of researchers can develop while conducting the field work. That is because, the research is analysed from one person or group’s point of view and their perception does come into play often. One of the ways of protecting ourselves from such criticism would be by being “extra super vigilante” while situating oneself into a culture or system. Thus the “importance of distance” plays an exceptionally major role in making the research credible.

Yet another attack against this method of research is that it studies one culture, organization, or system and tries to ‘see the world in a grain of sand’. This is true in some sense when the local provides an image of the global, the micro that of the macro. But it is also true that in a world as varied as ours, such study and its relevance can be highly limited. If I study one department in an organization, it is unlikely that the same gleanings from that study could be applied to another very different department. So studying one aspect of a company might not reveal much about the entire organization. It is difficult to defend ethnography in such a case. However, keeping in mind that all methods do have their drawback/s I guess conversely, ethnography too has its own (confident) position... enough to gain ground amongst the other research methodologies.

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