Table of Contents
What is ethnography?
Ethnography is the process of learning and describing a culture from an insider's point of view. It is a tool used in both cultural anthropology and sociology. It is also a tool in missiology as we seek to understand how our host culture understands life. Particularly, we seek to understand the meaning that local people assign to behavior, knowledge, and objects in social settings. Most often, ethnography involves taking a learning posture using participant observation and interviews. Moreover, ethnography requires humility and openness to continue learning from and being corrected by cultural insiders. Our goal in applying ethnography is to be able to understand and behave appropriately in our host culture so that the message of the gospel is understood without being captive to our home culture or the host culture.
Online courses on ethnography
- Approximate Time Commitment: 5 hours, length: 1 week
- Approximate Time Commitment: 6 hours, length: 8 days
- Approximate Time Commitment: 7 hours, length: 2 weeks
Ethnography session at Pre-Field Training (MOP)
Books on Ethnography
- James P. Spradley, The Ethnographic Interview , New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wilson, 1979. Now available on Kindle
- Writing Ethnographic Field Notes by Emerson, Fretz, Shaw
- Tales of the Field by John Van Maanen – how to write ethnographies
- The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What can be Done About It by Paul Collier – opens our eyes to the real world and how the rich and the poor influence each other
Ethnographies on People Groups
- Guest People: Hakka Identity in China and Abroad (Studies on Ethnic Groups in China) Hardcover – March 1996 by Nicole Constable (Editor). The essays in this volume analyze and compare what it means to be Hakka in a variety of sociocultural, political, geographical, and historical contexts including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Taiwan, and contemporary China.
- Negotiating Identity: Exploring Tensions between Being Hakka and Being Christian in Northwestern Taiwan (American Society of Missiology Monograph Series Book 13) Kindle Editionby Ethan Christofferson (Author). “This book is theoretically sophisticated, empirically rich, and missiologically wise—an outstanding contribution to contemporary missiology. This is the single best missiological treatment of ethnic identity in relationship to Christian conversion currently available.”
—Robert J. Priest, Professor of Mission, Anthropology, and International Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School