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On Ethnography: Basics and Beyond

This tutorial introduces ethnography as a “cocktail of methodologies”. You will learn about classic ethnographic research skills and practices: field access, rapport building, toolkit, reflexivity, community and practice mapping, data collection, triangulation and analysis, ‘abductive’ theorisation, research ethics, and moral dilemmas. In addition, we will explore different ethnographic approaches and review different ethnographic writing styles.

Course details

Session 1

• Ethnography as a “cocktail of methodologies”
• Classic ethnographic research skills and practices: field access, rapport building, toolkit, reflexivity, community and practice mapping, data collection, triangulation and analysis, ‘abductive’ theorisation, research ethics, and moral dilemmas
• Different ways of doing ethnography:
1) Autoethnography
2) Comparative ethnography
3) Multi-sited ethnography
4) Visual ethnography

In-class exercise: participant observation, interviews, data triangulation

Session 2

• New trends and practices of ethnography:
5) Digital ethnography (or ‘netnography’)
6) Online-offline ethnography
7) Chatnography
8) Algorithmic ethnography
• Different ethnographic writing styles
In-class exercise: incorporating new ethnographic approaches in your research topic


New dates will be announced in September!


Please sign up for the waiting list if the course is fully booked. We will contact you if a place opens up. Thanks.

Reading list

  • Session 1

    Key reading session 1

    • Anderson, Leon (2006) Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 35(4): 373-395.
    • Marcus, George E. (1995) Ethnography in/of the world system: The emergence of multi-sited ethnography. Annual Review of Anthropology 24(1): 95-117.
    • Reyes, Victoria (2020) Ethnographic toolkit: Strategic positionality and researchers’ visible and invisible tools in field research. Ethnography 21(2): 220-240.
    • Wilson, William Julius and Chaddha, Anmol (2009) The role of theory in ethnographic research. Ethnography 10(4): 549-564.

    Additional reading session 1

    • Akdeniz, Nafia (2019, online first) From participant observation to participant action (-to-be): Multi-sited ethnography of displacement in Cyprus. Ethnography 0(0): 1-23.
    • Brennen, Bonnie S. (2017) “Ethnography and participant observation.” in Qualitative Research Methods for Media Studies. New York and London: Routledge, pp.159-186.
    • Timko, Peter and van Melik, Rianne (2021) Being a Deliveroo rider: Practices of platform labor in Nijmegen and Berlin. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 50(4): 497-523.
    • Fine, Gary Alan (1993) Ten lies of ethnography: Moral dilemmas of field research. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 22(3): 267-294.
  • Session 2

    Key reading session 2

    • Caliandro, Alessandro (2017) Digital methods for ethnography: Analytical concepts for ethnographers exploring social media environments. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 47(5): 551-578.
    • Dong, Jie (2017) Chinese elite migrants and formation of new communities in a changing society: An online-offline ethnography. Ethnography 18(2): 221-239.
    • Käihkö, Ilmari (2020) Conflict chatnography: Instant messaging apps, social media and conflict ethnography in Ukraine. Ethnography 21(1): 221-239.
    • Peter L. Forberg (2021) From the fringe to the fore: An algorithmic ethnography of the farright conspiracy theory group QAnon. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 0(0): 1-27.

    Additional reading session 2

    • Christin, Angele (2020) The ethnographer and the algorithm: beyond the black box. Theory and Society 49: 897-918.
    • Mears, Ashley (2008) Discipline of the catwalk: Gender, power and uncertainty in fashion modeling. Ethnography 9(4): 429-456.
    • Tse, Tommy and Li, Xiaotian (2022) Recoupling corporate culture with new political discourse in China’s platform economy: The case of Alibaba. Work, Employment and Society 0(0): 1-25.
    • Zaman, Shahaduz (2008) Native among the natives: Physician anthropologist doing hospital ethnography at home. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 37(2): 135-154.


Dr Tommy Tse

Tommy Tse is Assistant Professor in the Television and Cross-Media Culture (TVCMC) program at the Media Studies Department, University of Amsterdam. He is also affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). He specialises in East Asia’s media and cultural industries, creative labour, consumer culture and sociology of fashion.

Dr. H.L.T. (Tommy) Tse

Faculty of Humanities

Departement Mediastudies