Ethnographic research is a field method of obtaining data in the natural environment of the subject, e.g. at home, work, while shopping. Through observation, analysis of objects and documents or photography, the researcher tries to blend into the life of the researched person, learn about his surroundings, behavior and habits, as well as socially and culturally shaped patterns. The researcher also keeps detailed records and, if necessary, may ask the examined person to explain individual decisions or actions.
The collected information makes it possible to verify the declarations of the respondents and embed observations and behaviors in context. Thus, this method allows for the collection of information that largely reflects the reality of the respondents.
Due to the place of the study, we distinguish:
- Exploration stays in the field – the researcher learns how to plan purchases, the researcher’s shopping habits and behaviors specific to a given place
- Exploratory stays in the workplace – the researcher pays attention to the atmosphere in the company, the bonds between employees and emerging conflicts
- Visits to households – the researcher observes the everyday life of the examined person, routine activities performed during the visits. A method often used for longer stays is called shadowing, because the researcher follows the subject “step by step”, getting to know their behavior and habits in depth.