(noun) An individual that shares knowledge with a researcher from an insider’s perspective, particularly for ethnographic research.
Example: The Community Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator at a domestic violence shelter that facilitates access to staff members and volunteers for research purposes.
Audio Pronunciation: (in·for·mant)
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- Plural: informants
- A type of individual.
- The term informant and respondent are often used interchangeably; however they are separate terms. Informant connotes qualitative research and respondent connotes quantitative research.
- Type: key informant (also called gatekeeper) – (noun) A primary source for an ethnographic researcher that often enthusiastically shares information and facilitates access to other people.
- Also called:
- An informant (verb) informs and is an (noun) informer.
- “An informant is neither a subject in a scientific experiment nor a respondent who answers the investigator’s questions. An informant is a teacher who has a special kind of student: a professional anthropologist [or sociologist]” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:4).
- “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).
- Atkinson, Paul. 1990. The Ethnographic Imagination: Textual Constructions of Reality. London: Routledge.
- Behar, Ruth. 1996. The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart. Boston: Beacon Press.
- Emerson, Robert M., Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw. 2011. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Morse, J. M. 1991. “Subjects, Respondents, Informants, and Participants?” Qualitative Health Research. 1(4): 403-406.
- Van Maanen, John. 2011. Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Wolcott, Harry F. 2009. Writing Up Qualitative Research. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Methodspace – A simple question about the use of the term “informant”: methodspace.com
Spradley, James P., and David W. McCurdy. 2008. Conformity and Conflict: Readings in Cultural Anthropology. Boston: Pearson Education.