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Ethnographic methods don't make an ethnographer - UX Australia 2016

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Are design researchers doing ethnography or just using ethnographic methods? Ethnography is about critically analysing people, cultures, processes, dynamics and contexts to understand what’s happening and why it’s happening. This means that the stories and experiences we collect – the evidence or data, if you like – aren’t necessarily the stuff of ethnography. So are we actually even doing ethnography?

I’ll talk about my experience doing ethnography in an academic context, including my year long fieldwork in Seychelles as part of my ongoing PhD work, and how I’ve seen, learnt about and experienced ethnography as a design researcher.

Publicado en: Diseño

Ethnographic methods don't make an ethnographer - UX Australia 2016

  1. 1. Ethnographic methods don’t make an ethnographer Experience Designer + Researcher PhD Candidate (Anthropology + Sociology) @michaelpalmyre Michael Palmyre
  2. 2. 2 Academia Design Designing the right thing Designing the thing right FIELD NOTES FIELDNOTESFIELD NOTES
  3. 3. 2 Hormel Hired an anthropologist to understand how Spam ‘fits’ into peoples’ lives SPAM
  4. 4. 2 Stripe Partners What happened before What’s happening now Where things might go
  5. 5. 2 What are we actually doing? Understanding or Delivering
  6. 6. 3 graphyEthno people, company, nation write, represent, study
  7. 7. Secondary Research Generating ‘etic’ understandings from books, missionaries, travellers 4
  8. 8. Empirical Research Generating ‘emic’ understandings through direct experiencing and embodying of practice and culture 4
  9. 9. 3 ProduceInterpretLearn Observation, fieldwork, photos, interviews, fieldnotes Thesis, paper, documentary, storytelling Unpack, sense making, reflexivity, grounded theory, analysis
  10. 10. 3
  11. 11. 3
  12. 12. 3
  13. 13. 4
  14. 14. 3 WhyWhat EthnographyContextual inquiryInterviewUsability testing Explicit knowledge - Fast culture Short term relevance - Superficial insights Incremental - Tactical Siloed Inside-out Business-centred Tacit, embodied knowledge - Slow culture Long term relevance - Deep insights Innovative - Strategic Agnostic Outside-in Human-centred Rapid ethnography Evaluate Generate Design Research Spectrum Understand
  15. 15. Fast culture Slow culture 3 fads deep activity surface activity pop culture explicit knowledge value systems deep influences embodied knowledge
  16. 16. How I’ve used ethnography Exploring the place of witchcraft (grigri) as part of Seychellois culture and identity 4
  17. 17. Finding participants Snowball sampling 4
  18. 18. Getting ‘in’ ‘Inserting’ myself into local contexts 4
  19. 19. On the ground Observing, learning and exploring 4
  20. 20. On the ground Observing, learning and exploring 4
  21. 21. On the ground Observing, learning and exploring 4 Groan, moan
  22. 22. Grounded Theory The development and iteration of theory grounded in ongoing observation and findings 4
  23. 23. 3 Find existing literature Snowball sampling Epiphany! Explore tangent Find overlooked area Develop framework Find gaps Analyse + Iterate Analyse + Iterate Time.
  24. 24. Understanding takes time There’s no time for deep understandings when we’re focused on producing a ‘thing’ Production of thing Production of knowledge 4
  25. 25. 3 Understand first Witchcraft Understand the context to understand the needs HEALTH teenage pregnancy high risk abortion dictatorial law paternalistic health care IDENTITY colonialism creolité negritude slavery individual community CULTURE resistance socialism capitalism racial binaries primordial embodied knowledge, nature vs nurture
  26. 26. Context Context. Context context context. 4
  27. 27. Complexity or Consumption Millenials don’t care about privacy and they want everything now! Actually, it really depends on the context and the individual. Blanket statements like this one misrepresent entire populations and give organisations empty findings that lead to bad decisions. While familiarity with a privacy-reduced, have-it-now world may be more common among younger demographics, it is incorrect to say that this statement applies to all ‘young’ people. Some participants sought time to think before signing up, and for it to be face-to- face, as opposed to ‘instant’ and online, so they could 4
  28. 28. Quote as evidence Design Research 4 ‘Yeah, I’d probably use this’
  29. 29. Quote as narrative Critical Ethnography 4 ‘ …older practitioners knew more… pure grigri… ’
  30. 30. Quote as narrative ‘ …older practitioners knew more… pure grigri… ’ Critical Ethnography negritude liminality nostalgia dilution mimicry 4 purity
  31. 31. Takeaways Always interpret what you collect 4 ‘…there is no insight in mere facts; you must interpret them.' - Sam Ladner - ‘What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.’ - Margaret Mead -
  32. 32. Takeaways Don’t try to understand ‘why’ at the shallow end of the research spectrum. 4 ‘Anyone can produce a new fact; the thing is to produce a new idea.’ - E.E. Evans-Pritchard -
  33. 33. Takeaways Start with in-depth ethnography to understand people first. 4 ‘Meaning is socially, historically, and rhetorically constructed.’ - Cliffort Geertz - ‘The only important thing about design is how it relates to people….we respond to that which has meaning’ - Victor Papanek -
  34. 34. Don’t try to understand ‘why’ at the shallow end of the research spectrum 4 Always interpret what you collect Start with in-depth ethnography to understand people first
  35. 35. 4 What we’re doing Designing the right thing Designing the thing right What we claim to be doing Designing the right thing Designing the thing right What we should be doing Ethnographic megalith Evidenced, innovative double diamonds,
  36. 36. 4 Thank you. Check out: Practical Ethnography - Sam Ladner The Interpretation of Cultures - Clifford Geertz In Search of Respect - Philippe Bourgois Body and Soul - Loïc Wacquant Patterns of Culture - Ruth Benedict