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Ethnography is a branch of anthropology which involves a scientific description of an individual culture or community.

Contemporary ethnography is based almost entirely on field work. The ethnographer lives among the people who are the subject of study for a period of time, learning the local customs and participating in everyday life while striving to maintain a degree of objective detachment. He or she usually cultivates close relationships with 'informants' who can provide specific information on aspects of cultural life. While detailed written notes are the mainstay of field work, ethnographers may also use participatory appraisal methods detailed below, as well as tape recorders, cameras, or video recorders.

In response to a growing dissatisfaction with the reductionism of surveys and subjectivism of field visits, participatory appraisal experiments have been developed to give a more quantitative data source for primary research than traditionally gathered in many social science projects.

Participatory Appraisal is a growing collection of tools, methods and techniques developed to better research and compare differing communities in the face of cultural, linguistic and ethnic disparities. One of the many techniques used by our specialists is that of mapping or diagramming where participants are encouraged to express their opinions by way of a diagram, usually by placing counters in appropriately labelled boxes. Such primary research techniques are becoming increasingly popular amongst students because of the various advantages detailed below.


The major advantage of mapping or diagramming techniques is that they allow the researcher to obtain quality data from subjects who would otherwise, because of a sense of inhibition and inferiority due to what they perceive to be their own limited language skills, be unable to express themselves with as much detail and openness as they are through diagramming experiments.

By using a common medium - pictures, shapes and images - to express thought and feeling, diagramming techniques are an excellent means of comparing the experiences of people from diverse cultures and languages. This is because the information obtained from the diagrams is in one uniform format, and does not run the risk of being distorted through translation - this being a draw-back of using questionnaires and interviews to compare primary data from subjects speaking different languages.

Our Participatory Appraisal Service

Oxbridge Primary Research offers a comprehensive Participatory Appraisal Service. Using the service, we will firstly arrange for you a venue for the research and an agreed number of participants from your chosen demographic group. One of our experienced researchers will then design one or several completely new maps or diagrams for your experiment, before overseeing the research itself. We can then arrange for either a videotape of the research to be sent to you or for paper copies of the results to be obtained.

Naturally, we can also arrange for a statistical analysis and representation of the results, as well as a professional write-up.

Our Ethnography Service

We employ nearly a thousand researchers - including many professors, PhD holders and professional scientists working at the cutting edge of their fields - who are well-practised in undertaking first-class, insightful ethnographies.

Oxbridge Primary Research can organise for one of our researchers to conduct an ethnographical study on your behalf. This can be done in any place in the UK and in a very wide range of international locations.

We can also arrange for you to undertake an ethnographical study in participation with or under the supervision of one of our researchers - again, either in the UK or abroad.

Speak to us

If you are interested in our Ethnography Service, one of our Primary Research Advisors would be happy to advise you on how it might complement your project and on any other aspects of the work.

To discuss The Field Work Service with one of our advisors, please call 0207 391 9038 or contact us via our contact form.