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An emic perspective is the insider's or native's perspective of reality. It is at the heart of good ethnographic research. Native perceptions may not conform to an “objective” reality, but they help the fieldworker understand why members of the social group do what they do. In contrast to a priori assumptions about how systems work from a simple, linear, logical perspective—which might be completely off target—ethnography typically takes a phenomenological approach to research. An emic perspective compels the recognition of multiple realities. Documenting multiple perspectives of reality in a given study is crucial to an understanding of why people think and act in different ways.

David M. Fetterman
10.4135/9781412950558.n163
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