On ethnography

Ethnography is defined as a study of people in their natural environment, while doing their ordinary activities, very often with the researcher participating directly in the same settings. Ethnography is less invasive and less direct than most research methodologies. According to Bruce Abbott and Kenneth Bordens ethnography is a non-experimental methodology, based on observations and empathising with research participants. In my opinion the empathy is a vital part of research especially when working directly with people.
According to Sarah Pink the ethnographer needs to involve empathy in the research in order to develop a sense of intimacy and sympathy between him/her and research participants. This approach allows the researcher to feel how it is to be a user, and gives him a brand new route to understanding users’ experiences. In order to reach a better insight any target audiences’ emotional routines the researcher can use qualitative sensory ethnography approach. As defined by Pink sensory ethnography relates to understanding that the experiences that we try to measure and observe are multisensorial. Pink is arguing that observing experiences in a sensory way allows the researcher to capture the data that the subject of the research would not be able to express in their own words.

The ethnographic research can use multiple methods starting from observations and finishing on the interviews and questionnaires designed in a sensory way to better relate to people’s feelings and emotions. Observations were chosen because of its non-invasive form, and allowed analysing target audience in their natural environment. From my own experience I have to admit that nothing is more inspiring and concept producing than “digging into” your user’s natural environment. Suddenly you stop making assumptions and professionally analyse the problems happening right in front of your eyes.


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