3 Things to ALWAYS consider in your fieldwork

There are always too many things to think about in the field. So the key to making it work out is to categorize and develop a model before you go out.  This model will, of course, be different for everyone but these are three buckets that usually help people ground their research.

NORMS

Cultural norms guide good marketing, design, and development. As an example, cultures shape how people understand what is “food.” While it is seen as strange to eat bugs in the West, they are a major source of protein in many parts of the world.  Ethnography looks to uncover these norms and how they shape what we say, do, and believe. Uncovering how people internalize these cultural norms gives us insight to what “makes sense” and allows us to design brands that will resonate rather than confuse or offend.

PROCESSES

How people get things done is another significant point of investigation for an ethnographer, showing us how cultural roles, beliefs about what is correct, and the order in which events take place shape interaction with place, and tool or a brand. For example, shopping is frequently done by someone other than the consumer and involves a series of steps and interactions.  Uncovering these processes lets us design and message to people at the right points in their journey.

MEANING

People have to make sense of the world around them and assign meaning to their shared lives. Rituals, morality, cosmology, even how we choose to clean our teeth are all endowed with meaning.  For example, knowing that you wear black to a funeral stems from associations we have between that color and death. Ethnography uncovers not only the meaning people assign to the world, but how that meaning comes about.

 

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