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Ethnography

  • By: Elizabeth Gill
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Ethnography is a research methodology that encompasses both process and product. At its most basic, ethnography is the study of human culture and the work produced from such study. Ethnographies are associated with qualitative research and most frequently use some form of participant observation to understand the communication, behavior, and social patterns of a group. In the context of health communication, ethnography is useful for gaining rich understanding of communication and other behaviors related to health and well-being. Such understanding provides insight into health-related decisions and offers a means to improve communication with particular groups related to their health.

The roots of ethnography in academic settings stem from anthropology. Bronislaw Malinowski's studies of the Trobriand Islanders in the 1920s laid the basis for modern field research. ...

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