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Sociology Word of the Day: ethnography

n. A qualitative research method in which a researcher observes a social setting to provide descriptions of a group, society, or organization.

Audio Pronunciation:

Download Audio Pronunciation: ethnography.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Also termed descriptive anthropology.
  • An (noun) ethnographer uses the research methodology of ethnography to produce (adjective) ethnographic or (adjective) ethnographvistic or (adjective) ethnographical work (adverb) ethnographically.

Related Quotations:

  • “Ethnographers seek out the insider’s viewpoint. Because culture is the knowledge people use to generate behavior and interpret experience, the ethnographer seeks to understand group members’ behavior from the inside, or cultural, perspective. Instead of looking for a subject to observe, ethnographers look for an informant to teach them the culture” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:4).

Additional Information:

Related Terms:



Spradley, James P., and David W. McCurdy. 2008. Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Boston: Pearson Education.

Useful Information

Parts of Speech:
  • adj. adjective - A word that expresses an attribute of a noun (big, little, short, tall).
  • adv. adverb - A word that modifies or qualifies the meaning of an adjective (unbelievably talented), verb (singing loudly), or another adverb (singing quite beautifully).
  • n. noun - Person (teacher, Bob); place (mountain, New York City) thing (rock); idea (happiness); or quality (charismatic).
  • v. verb - Action (run); occurrence (happen); or state of being (be).
  • e.g. - As an example.
  • etc. - And so on.
  • i.e. - In other words.
  • Ibid. - In the same place.
  • et al. - And others
Useful terms
  • coin - v. To create a word or additional meaning of a word.
  • comparison - n. How two things are similar.
  • connotation - n. The figurative or emotional meaning of a word.
  • contrasted - n. A comparison based on difference(s).
  • denotation - n. The literal dictionary meaning of a word.
  • hyponym - n. A specific version of the primary word.
  • [Example] - Indicates modification from the original, without changing the meaning, used typically for capitalization, to change plurality, or for clarification.
  • - Indicates a new paragraph, used in long quotes to show original formatting.
  • . . . - Indicates the removal of a portion of the quoted text for brevity but not in a way that changes the meaning.