Ethnography vs. Contextual Interviews: Methods Matter

Methods matter. It’s often assumed that an open-ended interview is ethnography and the reasons for the confusion are understandable, but an ethnographically-informed approach, which a contextual interview can certainly be, is not the same thing as a true ethnographic project.  Contextual interviews, which rely on self-report data, and ethnography, which focuses on observed data through […]

Triangulation: Validating Research and Strategy

One of the central problems we run into when discussing research finds, particularly when we’re using those finding to give strategic direction, is having the research’s validity called into question. I’ve talked over the years a fair amount about the idea of triangulation, but I’ve rarely summed up what it means. Here’s my take in […]

Culture, Sample and What Clients NEED to Know

The key point in ethnography is that the unit of analysis is not the individual, but the culture in which people operate.  As such, it is intrinsic to understanding ethnography’s value to comprehend that the study of a culture involves exploring two levels of consciousness and meaning: the explicit and the implicit. Explicit culture is […]

When “Bad” Interviews Go Good, Part 1

Contrary to what people say, there is rarely such a thing as a bad fieldwork experience.  I won’t say never, because they do happen. But more often than not, what the client would be inclined to look at as a bad interview, event, etc. is in fact an opportunity.  There is always a chance to […]