Writing an Ethnographic Essay

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Writingan Ethnographic Essay

Ethnography is an example of social science research method thatstudies about cultures. It uses inquiry method to expose the web inwhich members of the group are entangled. The objects, language,rules, behaviors, and beliefs make up the web. It greatly relies onthe personal experiences of the culture or subject group. Itemphasizes in the interview, close observation, field notes, andcollection of artifacts from the actual sites. After conductingethnographic research, the next step is to write the findings.Although different institutions have various guidelines, writingethnographic essay should follow a standard format with properanalysis and evaluation.

The motive for writing an ethnography essay is to show the culture ofa particular community. Almost every person has enjoyed ethnographyin its nonacademic text either in the magazine articles, reality TVshows, among others places. In these versions, readers and viewersencounter strange world whereby they get to learn about other cultureand their ways of doing things. They can do so by watching themoperate, reading published accounts, and making observations.Ballenger (2016) asserts that personal observation is the richestsource of data. Similar to qualitative research, ethnography is alsosubjective. It helps to discover the best way to understand andcommunicate with the audience. The inquiry question investigates howa particular group of people in either a social group or culturebehaves in a social setting.

In the recent years, ethnography has boomed especially in theacademic writing. It is most common in the anthropology courses,though one can also encounter ethnographic stories in the sociology,English, and visual arts. To write an ethnography essay, one requiresexpanding the repertoire of research by collecting information eitherby conducting an interview or through fieldwork. While selecting atopic, one should ensure the culture or the group of people areaccessible and the attractive in some way. However, one cannot be amember of the culture or group.

Ethnography essays have many variations forms, but they share somefeatures. Their main purpose is to observe, interview, and describethe members of particular groups. They seek to know what these peopledo, what they value, and how they see each other. The subject of theessay includes cultures or subcultures. They focus more on a group ofpeople from an identified group or culture. They have a differentform including narrative, collage, and typical day. Their sourcesinclude interviews, research, images, video, recordings, artifacts,rituals, taking notes, maps, location, and field observation.Ballenger (2016) points out that ethnography depends on closeobservation over time. Therefore, an ethnographer should spendsufficient time watching and taking notes in the field. He or she isa vital part of the research hence, need to understand subjectivestance.

Use of relevant methods of the invention is necessary to identify alocal culture to the study. This involves opening up (generating),narrowing down (judging), and trying out (generation, and thenjudging) ideas of social groups in the community. Opening up involvesjournal prompts, listing, fast writing, research prompts, and visualprompts. It also includes brainstorming identifiable social groupsand listing down all artifacts, rituals, and language of the group.Narrowing down seeks to investigate whether the social group meetsregularly, any background research, or privacy issues that may makethem hesitant to giving information. Next, the ethnographer analysesand interprets qualitative information. He or she finds the question,discovers the main thing, and then tell stories and provide profiles.

Ethnography writing creates awareness that a particular culture orsubculture. It inquires about a particular culture and exposes how itfunctions in their society. Ethnographer expands his or herunderstanding of people, culture, and group environment for aparticular social context.


Ballenger, B.(2016). Curious writer. New York: Pearson.