Ethnographic Methodology: A Virtual Special Issue Ethnography and Education

Ethnography and Education

The first issue of Ethnography and Education was published in 2006.  The working definition of ‘education’ used by the editorial board has always been broad, and the journal has embraced papers focussing on a variety of workplace and informal learning contexts in addition to formal settings from kindergarten to universities. In contrast, the journal has a somewhat tighter definition of ‘ethnography’. The word is not taken to be synonymous with qualitative research as it is in some other journals, but is taken to mean a particular form of multi-method research that, whilst usually only dealing with qualitative data, may even involve some quantitative research. In the first issue of Ethnography and Education the editorial team gave what they saw as a list of the key elements of ethnographic research as applied to the study of education contexts:

  • the focus on the study of cultural formation and maintenance;
  • the use of multiple methods and thus the generation of rich and diverse forms of data;
  • the direct involvement and long-term engagement of the researcher(s);
  • the recognition that the researcher is the main research instrument;
  • the high status given to the accounts of participants’ perspectives and understandings;
  • the engagement in a spiral of data collection, hypothesis building and theory testing - leading to further data collection; and
  • the focus on a particular case in depth, but providing the basis for theoretical generalization 
    (Troman et al. 2006, 1). 

Whilst some may wish to quibble over the detail of these points, the thrust remains a central point of the distinctiveness of the journal. 

View the full Virtual Special Issue Introduction here.

Ethnography and Education