You are here

Being Ethnographic

Being Ethnographic
A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Ethnography

Second Edition

Other Titles in:

September 2017 | 224 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Being Ethnographic is an essential introductory guidebook to the methods and applications of doing fieldwork in real-world settings. It discusses the future of ethnography, explores how we understand identity, and sets out the role of technology in a global, networked society.

Driven by classic and anecdotal case studies, Being Ethnographic highlights the challenges introduced by the ethnographers' own interests, biases and ideologies and demonstrates the importance of methodological reflexivity. Addressing both the why and how questions of doing ethnography well, Madden demonstrates how both theory and practice can work together to produce insights into the human condition. This fully updated second edition includes:

  • New material on intersubjectivity
  • Information on digital inscription tools
  • A practical guide to qualitative analysis software
  • New coverage of cyberethnography and social media
  • Expanded information on ethnographic possibilities with animals

Filled with invaluable advice for applying ethnographic principles in the field, it will give researchers across social sciences everything they need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Section One: Key Concepts and Theoretical Frames
Chapter 1: ‘Definitions’, methods and applications
Characterising ethnography




Practical and conceptual origins

Applications and ethics

Chapter 2: Ethnographic fields: home and away
Making place: what is an ethnographic field?

Some favourite fields

Ethnography at home

Multisited and un-sited ethnography

Section Two: Doing Ethnography
Chapter 3: Talking to people: negotiations, conversations and interviews



Chapter 4: Being with people: participation
Immersion ethnography

Step-in-step-out ethnography

Embodiment and the ethnographer

The ethical participant

Chapter 5: Looking at people: observations and images
The ethnographic gaze

The systematic eye

Visual ethnography

Seeing is believing

Section Three: Inscription
Chapter 6: Description: writing ‘down’ fieldnotes
Writing ‘down’

The systematic hand

What goes into notebooks

Examples of fieldnotes

Chapter 7: Analysis to interpretation: writing ‘out’ data
Organising primary data

Organising secondary data

Writing ‘out’ data

Chapter 8: Interpretation to story: writing ‘up’ ethnography
The storied reality

Author and audience

Writing as the continuation of interpretation

Structure in an ethnographic story

Style in ethnographic writing

Section Four: Expanding Ethnography
Chapter 9: Conclusion: ethnographic horizons

Cyber Ethnography

Non-human ethnography


With a vivid writing style, Madden uses stories from the field to illustrate how fascinating conducting ethnography can be.

Hanne Kirstine Adriansen
Education, Aarhus University

This new edition is an even more excellent addition to ethnographic literature than the previous edition. With an accessible, stimulating style, it draws richly on the author’s ethnographic experiences, identifying their benefits and pitfalls, and discusses ethnographic uses of technology, virtual environments and different aspects of non-human ethnography.

Peter Sercombe
Applied Linguistics and Communication, Newcastle University

an excellent book for students who are interested in using blogs as a means of qualitative research. This book is easy to understand and useful at all levels of research

Patsy Morgan
Southampton Solent Business School, Southampton Solent University
December 26, 2018

An excellent ethnographic text. Informative, interesting and extremely well-written. Am enjoyable read and at the same time an informative 'how to' for those conducting ethnographic research.

Mrs Angela Mazzetti
HRM and Organisational Studies, Newcastle University
May 6, 2019

one of my favorites!

Ms Roswitha Kersten-Pejanic
Department Of Slavic Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin
March 16, 2018

The book is very student-friendly and provides a stimulating and rich introduction to ethnography. It draws from the experience of the author and its many case studies are particularly useful for students from various disciplines (e.g. geography, tourism, leisure studies) interested in anthropology.

Mr Nick Naumov
Northampton Business School, Northampton University
November 1, 2017

An excellent and well-written introduction to a very complex area of research using many relevant examples drawn from the author's own practice.

Mr Paul Demetriou-Crane
Education, Havering College of Further and Higher Education
October 23, 2017

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781473952157

ISBN: 9781473952140

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.

With SAGE Research Methods, researchers can explore their chosen method across the depth and breadth of content, expanding or refining their search as needed; read online, print, or email full-text content; utilize suggested related methods and links to related authors from SAGE Research Methods' robust library and unique features; and even share their own collections of content through Methods Lists. SAGE Research Methods contains content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and handbooks, the entire “Little Green Book,” and "Little Blue Book” series, two Major Works collating a selection of journal articles, and specially commissioned videos.