What will you find here?

Ethnographic work is a qualitative research method and way of looking at the world which seeks a deeper understanding of people’s social worlds – their culture – and the meaning and value they ascribe to their lives. Ethnography focuses on the intersection between values and practices. It looks to people’s everyday actions to understand how cultural norms – practices – are formed, interpreted and iterated and how people make sense of their lives. Ethnography understands that people’s actions take place and are rooted in the context of their cultures, socioeconomic situations and histories and that the stories they tell themselves and others about life have deep meaning for them. These stories are communications devices about action, social responsibility, why we are here and do what we do.

What will you learn?

Large-scale social challenges require innovative thinking at the systemic level, where organisational, social network, and behavioural analyses inform creative problem solving. Ethnographic research can contribute to the design of solutions to “disrupt” systems in two key ways;

First, it fills gaps in knowledge by subjecting these complex systems to greater scrutiny and identifying the key themes problems which may be solved through innovation.

Second, through narrative and seep understanding of people’s lives operating within these systems, ethnographic insight can identify and mobilise a broad community of problem-solvers and enlist their knowledge to address those problems.

Strategically planned ethnographic methods and data interpretation offer a much broader understanding of the multiple, competing problems at play, and helps identify where the leverage points and real opportunities for change resideThe tools outlined in this section are designed to elicit ethnographic insights in the areas of motivations; barriers, moments of change, social networks and choice logics.