Ethnography, Observational Research, and Narrative Inquiry


According to Coulon (1995), "ethnomethodology is the empirical study of methods that individuals use to give sense to accomplish their daily actions: communicating, making decisions, and reasoning" (p. 15). This approach is actually a form of ethnography, which specifically studies activities of group members to see how they make sense of their surroundings. Usually an ethnomethodologist will see or hear things in a group that participants are not consciously aware of. For instance, in Ways with Words, Heath (1983) notices that in the Black community of Trackton, children learn how to become fast thinkers when playfully interacting with adults and other children. The participants may not be aware of this teaching and learning process, but Heath asserts that the learned wittiness of the children pays off when they have to defend themselves.

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