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Adapting Ethnography: An Example of Emerging Relationships, Building Trust, and Exploring Complex Consumer Landscapes

Consumer Culture Theory

ISBN: 978-1-78441-158-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-157-2

ISSN: 0885-2111

Publication date: 22 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, we provide a practical example of how ethnographic insight is obtained in the field. In so doing, we demonstrate multiple ways in which ethnographic approaches can be adapted during on-going research processes to develop rich and multiple emic/etic perspectives.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based upon the first author’s reflective experience of undertaking ethnographic field work. The discussion draws from a multi-method, longitudinal and adaptive ethnographic research design, which aimed to capture the process of new family identity formation in Sri Lanka.

Originality/value

Existing research gives us excellent insight into various methods used in contemporary ethnographic research and the kinds of insight generated by these methods. With few exceptions, these studies do not give significant insight into the specifics of the ethnographic research process and the adaption practice. Thus, we provide a practical example of how ethnographic insight is obtained in the research field.

Discussion/findings

Our discussion elaborates the ways in which we integrated multiple research methods such as participant observations, semi-structured in-depth interviews, informal sessions, Facebook interactions, adaptations of performative exercises and elicitation methods to overcome complexities in cultural, mundane and personal consumption meanings. We also discuss how closer friendships with informants emerged as a consequence of the ethnographic research adaption practice and how this influenced trust and confidence in researcher-informant relationship, presenting us with a privileged access to their everyday and personal lives.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their insight on an earlier version of this paper.

Citation

Edirisingha, P., Aitken, R. and Ferguson, S. (2014), "Adapting Ethnography: An Example of Emerging Relationships, Building Trust, and Exploring Complex Consumer Landscapes", Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 191-215. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0885-211120140000016010

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited