How to Write an Ethnography

Reflect on your study of a culture to prepare to write your ethnography.

Once you've studied a culture, you will need to know how to write an ethnography in order to make the clearest report about how that society functions. Before you write an ethnography, make sure that you have had enough time to study and talk to members of the culture. It is important to remember that successfully observing a culture requires you to observe only -- not to impose your own beliefs or expectations upon that culture.

Have the results of a questionnaire before you begin. Most anthropological studies require that you have asked members of the culture a series of questions to make sure that you understand their perspective on their culture and the reasons for their behaviors. The ideal situation is to have a leader of the society answer the questions, but a more specific cultural study may require the questions to be answered by the specific people you are studying.

Write an introduction page that tells the reader exactly what you wanted to study and how you went about studying. The reader of your ethnography should get a sense of why you are qualified to write about the culture that will be described. Talk about what questions you were attempting to answer and what others knew about this culture before your study.

Continue the ethnography by describing the way in which you gathered your information. Talk about specific conversations you had, the number of people you talked to and interacted with, etc.

Analyze the research you did and write about how the data you gathered answers the questions you posed. You can use your experiences, your opinions, observations and the questionnaires to analyze what you learned during your study.

Conclude your ethnography with a suitable conclusion page that sums up what you did and what you learned. Restate your main points so that the reader is left with the impact of your work and what it will mean in the overall study of that culture.

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