Ethnographies are written, or even visual, descriptions (-graphy) that represent the native point of view as part of a cultural analysis (ethno-). Thus, ethnography is both a topic of study (culture) and a research style intended to illuminate this topic. Traditionally, fieldworkers spent extended periods of time away from home studying exotic communities such as the Nuer of Africa or the Yanomami of South America. This requires observing and participating in a range of community activities, as well as asking questions of the natives, in order to make sense of their understandings of the social world. Gaining the perspective of the Other often involves a combination of retrospective analysis and progressive problem solving.

Put another way, ethnographic understandings can emerge when the fieldworker encounters something strange ...

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