Please note: This course will be delivered in person at the Colchester campus. Online study is not available for this course.
Karen O’Reilly is Freelance Researcher and Training Provider, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Loughborough University, and Co-Investigator on the www.BrexitBritsAbroad.org project at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has taught ethnographic and qualitative methods for over 25 years, including the Essex Summer School, the Swiss Summer School in Social Science Methods, in Lugano; at universities in the UK, Germany, Norway, and Hong Kong. Her experience also includes being a Member of the Advisory Board of the NCRM biannual Research Methods Festival 2011-2012; and a member of the ESRC Peer Review College 2012 – 2016. Karen is a highly experienced ethnographer and qualitative researcher whose many publications include two widely cited books on ethnography: Ethnographic Methods (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2012) and Key Concepts in Ethnography (Sage, 2009). She has also been instrumental in the design and evaluation of Masters level Research Methods courses and programmes in a number of universities. Karen provides short courses for the Social Research Association on a regular basis, as well as bespoke training in qualitative research methods.
Ethnography is an increasingly popular style of research, employed in both long-term and short-term studies in creative ways across the social sciences. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the technical, practical and philosophical issues that arise when employing traditional and innovative ethnographic methods. Ethnographers typically immerse themselves in a setting for a period of time, listen, ask questions; and supplement observation with the analysis of interview data, documents, and visual and digital data. Such an intrusion into the social setting presents a challenge to the ‘received view of science’ but ethnographic methods have proven, over time, to provide valid, valuable and rich contextual data with which to understand complex social issues. This course addresses practical and theoretical issues through the following topics: participant observation and contemporary applications; hypotheses, abduction and serendipity; accessing the field; writing fieldnotes; making sense of observational data and telling credible stories; multi-sited, virtual, visual and sensory ethnography; reflexivity, ethics, and the emotions in fieldwork.
The course is applied, encouraging participants to think intellectually about each topic area in relation to their own research interests, and to carry out and begin to analyse micro-observational studies.
By the end of the course participants should: Be able to make close, theory-oriented observations through participation, observation, and conversation. Be equipped to record and analyse the data produced through diverse methods. Take a critical and creative approach to ethnographic methods and understand how they can be combined with other methods of data collection for a range of social, political and policy research areas. Be in a position to present, and defend the quality and value, of ethnographic interpretations.
The course is introductory but intensive, rapidly taking participants from a beginner’s to an advanced level. Some prior familiarity with qualitative methods and a background knowledge of the philosophy of social science is required. Participants should be aware that the practical decisions to be made when conducting ethnographic research are necessarily theoretically-informed and will vary with each practitioner’s orientation. The course aims to equip participants with the knowledge required to make those decisions for themselves in practice.
Key text – this text will be provided by ESS:
O’Reilly, K. 2012. Ethnographic Methods, 2nd. Ed. London: Routledge
Representative Background Reading
This is a list of options you can dip into if you wish. Participants are not required to do any prior reading
- O’Reilly, K. 2009. Key Concepts in Ethnography, London: Sage
- Fetterman, D. (2009). Ethnography: Step by Step, Sage
- Boellstorff, T. et. Al. 2012. Ethnography and Virtual Worlds. Princeton University Press.
- Pink, S. 2009 Doing Sensory Ethnography, London: Sage