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Ethnograpic Research

Part 2. Marketing Research

  1. Linda L. Price

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem02036

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Price, L. L. 2010. Ethnograpic Research. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 2.

Author Information

  1. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Ethnography is a practice that allows researchers to directly interact, participate, and become intimately involved in their individual subjects of study, particularly in the study of culture and social behavior. Ethnography here refers both to fieldwork itself and its representation, and draws from a broad range of source data. This includes participant and nonparticipant observation, interviews, conversations, and informant diaries, which are the most common sources of ethnographic data. Ethnography is useful for a wide range of problems including understanding disjunctures between what people say and do, identifying “taken for granted” practices and linking them to shared cultural templates and meanings, and uncovering complex interplays of marketing phenomena and people in social systems. Ethnographic data collection is largely unstructured, and gaining access to data can be problematic since researchers often operate in settings where they have little power or control. New tools such as “netnography” and consumer-generated videos have helped expand, access, and correct this issue. Data analysis is open-ended, flexible, adaptive, and involves interpreting meanings, functions, and consequences of actions and practices of people and institutions.


  • ethnography;
  • netnography;
  • personal observation;
  • qualitative analysis;
  • field work