INTRODUCTION: Contextualizing Qualitative Research for Social Justice
This chapter examines ethnography's historical roots, strategies for collecting data, analysis of the data, and important considerations for how ethnography can help promote a critical, justice-oriented agenda. Ethnographic research methods have been employed across a range of different academic disciplines. Anthropologists are regularly credited as being the first ethnographers, followed by efforts in sociology and related disciplines. In ethnography, gaining access to a community is a significant undertaking. Issues of researcher reflexivity, sociocultural awareness, and sensitivities to differences are paramount dispositions throughout the ethnographic process. Ethnographic interviewing is a series of informal, casual conversations during participant observation where researchers politely try to understand participant's perspectives. Forms of activism or social justice for people involved in ethnographic research processes are often significant. Critical engagement in the form of political activism receives most attention when it focuses on large-scale, publicly visible forms of social justice advocacy.