Are ethnography and discourse analysis compatible?

The answer to the question posed by the title of this post is, ‘Yes’, and ‘No’. Researchers working on both fields have a number of positions on the issue, from the ones who defend traditional forms of ethnography (Walford, 2009) to the ones who attempt to integrate both ethnography and discourse analysis in their practices (Rampton et al, 2006). Some, pragmatically, would answer, ‘It depends.’  Before trying to answer such a question perhaps it would be advisable to consider a number of factors on which the answer depends. First of all, it depends largely on one’s understanding of the theoretical principles and acceptable practices within both traditions. Secondly, it may depend on what your research questions are and the social phenomena you want to investigate. Last but not least, we have to consider that whatever answers individual researchers may give to this question in the process of carrying out their studies, their answer will be assessed and evaluated by their own research communities and the traditions within which they work. Thus, it also depends on historical developments in the field of academic research as a whole. It is very unlikely that there will ever be a single, unified answer to such a question.

In this paper I compare and contrast some principles and practices that characterise more traditional forms of ethnographic research to the theoretical and practical notions that inform discourse analysis. I then briefly examine the work of researchers who seek to actively combine both methods under what they name linguistic ethnography.

Read the full paper Are ethnography and discourse analysis compatible?

The original article was written in March 2010 as one of my MRes assignments.


One thought on “Are ethnography and discourse analysis compatible?

  1. Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Taking a few minutes and
    actual effort to generate a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

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