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How to Write an Ethnography Paper

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Before we dive into how to write an ethnography paper, let us define ethnography. Ethnography is the study of people and cultures. It is done systematically using thought out procedures to gather useful information for usable results. A person in this line of work is called an ethnographer and it is a study closely related to anthropology. Ethnography is a social science focused on pre-dominantly non-western cultures. Some reputable ethnographers include Franz Boas, Lewis H. Morgan, and Thor Hoyer dahl, among others. It is an interesting choice of study and career and requires the same dedication as one would put into sciences. Now, ethnography relies heavily on personal experience, therefore, the person writing the ethnography paper should be involved in the process of collecting data, especially the fieldwork.

Before we dive into how to write an ethnography paper, let us define ethnography. Ethnography is the study of people and cultures. It is done systematically using thought out procedures to gather useful information for usable results. A person in this line of work is called an ethnographer and it is a study closely related to anthropology. Ethnography is a social science focused on pre-dominantly non-western cultures. Some reputable ethnographers include Franz Boas, Lewis H. Morgan, and Thor Hoyer dahl, among others. It is an interesting choice of study and career and requires the same dedication as one would put into sciences. Now, ethnography relies heavily on personal experience, therefore, the person writing the ethnography paper should be involved in the process of collecting data, especially the fieldwork.

The steps to ethnography start with looking up secondary data. Any information from previous researchers and notable scholars needs to be at the top of your list. Reading on information that has already been analyzed is good practice to do further research and contribute to the same community in focus. To write a successful paper, starting with doing some background research always helps to give you direction. Second, the method of study and collecting data should be formulated to lay out a plan for the resources you will need to retrieve the information you need. As ethnography is a qualitative way of gathering information, questionnaires and personal exploration are often mandatory to get information from the source itself. Before going out in the field it is advisable to find your bearings and have a list of well-thought-out questions that you will ask. As you begin to reach out to an authority in the community who can facilitate the process.

It could be a religious leader, a respected elderly or the most educated among them. There is no specific person to start with. Going as a small group for field work is not uncommon. Different people make different observations and this could lead to a more enriched paper after the group has come together to expound on their findings. Even the smallest details can make for an important contribution to become the basis of an idea or argument. Having an open mind when collecting data and making conclusions is valuable to write the best paper. You can make multiple visits if necessary to come up with conclusive findings.


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In summary, start by studying secondary data, then select your method of gathering information. Have a list of questions to ask, then reach out to a facilitator before you go into the field. Once that is done, discuss and deliberate, then put down your work. Jot down your points and expound each of them. Be descriptive, interpret for the reader and be inclusive in your writing to help the reader who will be your professor, to get a feel for your findings. Mention the difficulties you faced and the limitations to gathering some of the information. Talk about the routines and customs you learned, and how your study contributes to the community in focus. Your paper should be able to build a complete understanding of the people.

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