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Culture, History, Power: Home

Use this guide to learn about and find ethnographic studies.

What's an Ethnography

It's a short-term observation of a group

A first-hand account of a culture or group (the goal is to gain an insider's understanding)

  • Focused on a particular population
  • In a particular place
  • During a specific time

The goal is to accurately describe the group through participant observation

Ethnographies are conducted by anthropologists

The results of the study can become a book or an article (scholarly)

How to find ethnographies

There's no one place in the library with ethnographies so this can be a bit tricky.

Here are a few strategies:

Use one of the following terms to coax out the idea of an ethnography:

  • Type in ethnograph* as a key word
  • Use the phrase "case study" in the search
  • If the database allows you to search by Subjects, try Ethnology or Social Life and Customs as a Subject

Next apply some terminology that would reflect the group or culture you are studying.  Be as specific as possible. For example:

  • teen* OR adolescen*
  • "college students"
  • America* OR "united states"
  • immigrants

Remember that research is an iterative process. Try several strategies to find as many good articles as possible.
If you're not happy with your results, add more terms and/or use limiters if you find too many results. You may also want to back away from some of your limiters and/or change your terminology if you get too few results.

Databases for Group Projects

Some sample searches