A little about us
Ethnography Matters is a space to talk about the blurring boundaries of our craft, where we can gain insight, advice and inspiration from those who are defining what high quality, accessible and innovative research might look like in a future that is increasingly mediated by technology.

We feature posts from editors and contributors around a thematic edition that runs for two months. We also have several columns (Infra/Extraordinary, Tell Me More), and we highlight special series.

Launched in October, 2011, we started the site as a way for us to explore the people and projects that are charting new territory for ethnography in a world much changed from the days of Malinowski and Margaret Mead. Since then, Ethnography Matters has become a platform for ethnographers and those using elements of ethnographic practice to take part in conversations between academic and applied ethnography in the private and public sector. It has become a place for listening to and thinking about the stories of ethnographers and ethnographic research participants, and for analysis and theory related to the social patterns and contexts of technology.

Why does ethnography matter?
In the specific frame of technology research and design, ethnography matters because the practice of telling user stories, exposing how technology makes us and how we make technology, can help to direct information tools in the service of human values like empathy, global solidarity, surprise and joy. Ethnography matters because it provides a mechanism for evaluating theories of “revolutionary” technology as grounded in the lived experience of people and communities. Ethnography matters because it helps to keep technological development real.  Through ethnography we can expose what societies have in common and where we diverge in order to better envision human possibilities. When we understand this we can, in turn, gain a better understanding of why technology matters.

Why we started Ethnography Matters
We came together to start this blog because we believe that ethnographic research — with its focus on human experiences in context — is critical for countering the trend towards treating people as numbers, as digits, as data and as markets.

We want to make ethnography accessible to a wider audience of non-specialists. We want to show the power of ethnography when combined with mixed-method or integrative research approaches, whether in academic, public sector or corporate research. At the same time, we recognize that ethnographers need a space to talk about the new challenges and opportunities that digital tools pose as objects of study, as analytical tools, and as a medium for conducting fieldwork.

We are not a research group housed at a university or company. We are not a lab. We are not an annual conference. We are just a few people who came together to create a space. What has emerged is a community with a new geography of communication practices that falls outside of disciplines and industries. We are no different than the communities we write about. We need exposure and feedback. We need third places. We need non-formal ways to connect. When we don’t have these spaces, we risk becoming silo-ed in our own sub-fields. With this project, we hope to catalyze conversations about ethnography among a wider audience and inspire ethnographers and non-ethnographers to share and try out new methods and approaches.

I’m not an ethnographer, so….
Ethnography Matters is not only for people who call themselves ethnographers but for researchers and practitioners who use and are inspired by ethnographic methods. Our audience and guest contributors range from formally trained ethnographers to design researchers, teachers, quantitative data scientists, and market researchers.

Come participate!
There are many different ways to participate. You can comment on the posts. You can share interesting posts with your networks. You can send us interesting links via twitter or comment on our facebook page. You can also guest contribute. Take a look at the guidelines for guest contributors. We look forward to going on this ethnographic journey together!

Some links to articles about us:

6 Comments on “About”

  1. March 8, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    So glad to have found you. I am still in the very early stages of looking at Ethnogrophy & Ethnographic research & all of the possibilities. Can’t wait to read your posts!

  2. virtual3
    November 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    This is a great blog. Thanks guys for putting this together.

    The big hurdle seems to be communicating the value of research to companies. Hopefully, the examples we share here can help illustrate the value of gathering insights.

    • January 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      thanks virtual3 – we’re aiming to do that! any ideas you have would be great!

  3. Andreas Urstadt + Julien Lewis
    September 18, 2013 at 7:15 am #


    Just a word.

    Your concept of space limits, as any space does. Each space belongs to a construction. Especially when matters like technology are added to, the new emerges on the open, the horizonal, concepts like space always verticalize. The vertical knows no progress but hierarchy. So called space is created first with the range of mother s (father s) call. It s always domestic.

    The term field work had been one step ahead of. Spacial turns domesticate. Even outer space does. It s limiting.

    Integrating matters like design could open the so called concept. Horizonal and constellated to constellations (relations belong to the vertical), open. The vertical regresses, the horizonal progresses.

  4. Gilbert Chan
    September 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I stumbled on this site by accident! Just wanted to say thanks for making this site. I am performing Ethnography tasks for a giant corporation’s service delivery and I look forward to learning more here.


  1. Reading Bytes for Nov 14 - November 15, 2011

    […] Ethnography Matters – Discovered a good new blog on Ethnographers and Ethnography. From the about page: […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: