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Key informants, or key actors, are typically articulate and culturally sensitive. Key actors play a pivotal role in the theater of ethnographic research, linking the fieldworker and the community. They provide detailed historical data, knowledge about interpersonal relationships, and a wealth of information about the nuances of everyday life. They generally answer questions about the group in a comprehensive, albeit meandering fashion. Key informants are typically cultural brokers straddling two cultures. This position gives them a special vantage point in describing their culture. Ethnographers try to speak to as many people as possible, but they traditionally rely most heavily on key informants.

David M. Fetterman
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