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Methodology and Explanation 2007 Methodology and Explanation XX50125 Lecture 5: Ethnography Dr. Danaë Stanton Fraser.

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Presentation on theme: "Methodology and Explanation 2007 Methodology and Explanation XX50125 Lecture 5: Ethnography Dr. Danaë Stanton Fraser."— Presentation transcript:

1 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Methodology and Explanation XX50125 Lecture 5: Ethnography Dr. Danaë Stanton Fraser

2 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography by date Anthropology (c. 1920s) –e.g. E. E. Evans Pritchard Workplaces (c. 1950s) –Chicago School –E. C. Hughes, Becker etc. Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (c. 1990s) –J. Hughes, C. Heath

3 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography Long history with its roots in anthropology Is ethnography a method? –NOT a methodology! –does not predefine a theoretical or conceptual status –has been used in support of many methodological standpoints, e.g....

4 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography by theory Ethnography has been used to support: –Soft Systems analysis –Participative design –Activity theory –Cognitive task analysis –Distributed cognition –Ethnomethodology

5 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography basics (1) assume human activities are socially organised commit to inquiring into patterns of interaction go into the field learn the ropes (question, listen, watch, talk, etc., with practitioners) take your time write a report

6 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography basics (2) Ethnography is naturalistic –studies should be studies of real people and their activities, operating in their natural environment –doesnt deal with artificial worlds & controlled versions of work but what is artificial? –Mike Lynch: "Stop talking about science. Go to a laboratory - any laboratory will do - hang around a while, listen to conversations, watch the technicians at work, ask them to explain what they are doing, read their notes, observe what they say when they examine data, and watch how they move equipment around..."

7 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography basics (3) Ethnography understands the world from the point of view of those who inhabit it –it is behavioural, i.e. interested in the detail of the behaviour to a greater or lesser extent –it is not behaviourist, i.e. it does not consider the behaviour itself as the appropriate level of analysis

8 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography basics (4) Ethnographic data can include: general descriptions of behaviours, descriptions of physical layouts, close descriptions of conversation, thoughts and feelings, work sequences, anecdotes, examples, common occurrences etc. –analysis is skilful (but not complex) –ethnographer usually provides 'examples'

9 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Carrying out an ethnographic study (1) individuals and organisations have ideas, expectations and fears about ethnography Gaining access and an ability to be simultaneously likeable and anonymous will help Gaining acceptance may include working, sharing conditions, a non-intrusive manner, sharing dress codes, but not sharing opinions unless absolutely necessary

10 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Carrying out an ethnographic study(2) Initial phase includes: –familiarising yourself with the situation –collect information that you are exposed to –make notes on everything that you see and hear –sketch plans of spaces –tape record

11 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Carrying out an ethnographic study (3) Choice between the innocent ethnography and informed ethnography How theoretically/strategically informed should you be at the outset? One choice is progression from one to the other

12 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Technology support for ethnography (1) Technologies mostly used for data collection Questions, notebook, pen Tape recording –less intrusive than video but data is less detailed –awareness of being recorded not a problem –useful to record long explanations, especially highly technical or domain-specific kinds Probes (Mark Rouncefield et al.)

13 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Technology support for ethnography (2) Video –Data can be analysed repeatedly off-site –Time-consuming data collection and analysis –Difficulty setting up and using equipment in some domains –Missing visual actions that are peripheral to the video field-of-view Programs to support analysis –e.g. Ethnograph, NUDIST

14 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Ethnography for design Ethnography used to generate requirements –Detailed reports –Ethnographers as part of a design team –Ethnographers partnering with programmers

15 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Consecutive v concurrent ethnography for design Sequenced process Ethnographic study precedes system development Thorough insight into the subtleties of the organisation Declining rate of usefulness for fieldwork to contribute to design Concurrent process Ethnographic study goes hand-in-hand with system development Highlights key surface features of organisation High contribution of fieldwork to design per hour spent

16 Methodology and Explanation 2007 Example studies Heath and Luff (1992), Crisis Management and Multimedia Technology in London Underground Line Control Rooms, CSCW journal, 1 (1-2) –Peripheral monitoring –Designing actions for their visibility by others –Technologies in public workplaces External speakers – 2 differing examples

17 Methodology and Explanation 2007 References Cheverst, K., Dix, A., Fitton, D., Friday, A., Rouncefield, M. Exploring the Utility of Remote Messaging and Situated Office Door Displays. Mobile HCI 2003: Crabtree, A. (2003) Designing Collaborative Systems: A Practical Guide to Ethnography, London: Springer-Verlag Heath, C.C., Hindmarsh, J. & P. Luff. (1999) Isolation and interaction: the fragmented world of the train driver on London Underground. Sociology 33, 3, pp Heath, C.C. and P. Luff (2000) Technology in Action Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp Hemmings T, Crabtree A, ( 2002 ) Ethnography for design?. The 1st International Workshop on "Interpretive" Approaches to Information Systems, pages Association of Information Systems Hughes, J. A., King, V., Rodden, T., and Andersen, H. (1994) "Moving out from the control room: Ethnography in system design". In Proceedings of CSCW 94, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


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