Ethnography is a qualitative research method in which a researcher—an ethnographer—studies a particular social/cultural group with the aim to better understand it. Ethnography is both a process (e.g., one does ethnography) and a product (e.g., one writes an ethnography). In doing ethnography, an ethnographer actively participates in the group in order to gain an insider’s perspective of the group and to have experiences similar to the group members. In writing ethnography, an ethnographer creates an account of the group based on this participation, interviews with group members, and an analysis of group documents and artifacts.

Recommended Reading

Hammersley, M. (2018). What is ethnography? Can it survive? Should it?. Ethnography and Education, 13(1), 1-17.

Case Studies/Examples

Andrews, G. J., Sudwell, M. I., & Sparkes, A. C. (2005). Towards a geography of fitness: an ethnographic case study of the gym in British bodybuilding culture. Social science & medicine, 60(4), 877-891.

Atkinson, M. (2015). The suffering and loneliness of the fell runner: an ethnographic foray. In Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research (pp. 110-124). Routledge. [Google Books]

Benkwitz, A. (2015). Reflecting on the ‘perils of ethnography’: a case study of football fan rivalry in Birmingham. In Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research (pp. 155-168). Routledge.

Griffin, M., & Phoenix, C. (2015). Women’s lived experiences of health and ageing in physical activity. In Ethnographies in Sport and Exercise Research (pp. 91-109). Routledge. [google books]

Halberg, N., Jensen, P. S., & Larsen, T. S. (2021). We are not heroes—The flipside of the hero narrative amidst the COVID19‐pandemic: A Danish hospital ethnography. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 77(5), 2429-2436.

Spencer, D. C. (2009). Habit (us), body techniques and body callusing: An ethnography of mixed martial arts. Body & society, 15(4), 119-143.

Stevens, A. (2011). Telling policy stories: an ethnographic study of the use of evidence in policy-making in the UK. Journal of Social Policy, 40(2), 237-255.

Further Reading

Molnár, G., & Purdy, L. G. (Eds.). (2016). Ethnographies in sport and exercise research. Routledge.

Ottrey, E., Jong, J., & Porter, J. (2018). Ethnography in nutrition and dietetics research: a systematic review. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(10), 1903-1942.

Smith, B., Papathomas, A., Martin Ginis, K. A., & Latimer-Cheung, A. E. (2013). Understanding physical activity in spinal cord injury rehabilitation: Translating and communicating research through stories. Disability and rehabilitation, 35(24), 2046-2055.