Ethnographic Methods in Education

Ethnographic Methods in Education

  • Summary
  • Overview
  • Key Readings

As qualitative methods have gained acceptance, ethnography has become rather overshadowed by interviewing, narrative, focus groups, life history, and autobiography. These volumes focus only on ethnography.

Ethnography has been recognized as an important research method in educational research for over 40 years, but has a longer history than that which is often ignored. This collection demonstrates the long and fascinating history of the use of ethnographic research methods to study educational settings and issues; maps the strengths and weaknesses of ethnography in contemporary educational research; and explores the major controversies surrounding educational ethnography. The theoretical roots of and key figures in ethnographic research done by anthropologists, sociologists and others, are central to the volumes, which brings together often isolated and disparate research traditions so that readers can compare and contrast their strengths and weaknesses.

Volume One: Contexts and Theories

Volume Two: Educational Settings

Volume Three: Educational Contents - Knowledge and Power

Volume Four: Participants in Education - Pupils, Students, Teachers, Lecturers

Editor's Introduction: Ethnographic Methods in Education

This introduction explores what is meant by ‘traditional’ ethnography by clarifying the terms, fieldwork and participant observation in relation to ethnography. It explains what the ethnography of education is; sets out the central tenets of the familiarity problem and proposes some strategies to avoid it; provides an overview of key features of the sociological and the anthropological traditions in the ethnography of education; and lastly, introduces the four volumes.

The term ‘traditional’ ethnography is broadly similar to Adler and Adler's (2008) ‘classical and mainstream’; what Fine (2003) termed ‘peopled’ and what Katz (2001 and 2002) sees as producing ‘luminous description’. There are three closely related terms: ethnography, fieldwork, participant observation: all part of a wider category, qualitative research. The majority ...

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