Stop, Collaborate and Listen! Collaborative Ethnographic Research – Why It Should Be Used

Stop, Collaborate and Listen! Collaborative Ethnographic Research – Why It Should Be Used

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Quantified studies of data, trends and statistics may sound like good research methods, but do they truly provide an accurate measure of certain aspects, such as media use in everyday life? This post will explore how collaborative ethnographic research can be used to analyse contemporary media use in the home, and why it is a superior research method.

According to “The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography” by Luke Eric Lasseter, ethnography is the observation and study of people and their cultures. The video below provides a further insight into ethnographic research and what it means for each individual.

Researchers should work collaboratively if they want to obtain accurate research results. This means that everybody has to work together as a team to achieve the best possible outcomes. Simply put, collaborative ethnography involves gathering information through personal experience, instead of relying on general statistics to analyse findings. It is a good idea to engage with others in their everyday lives to allow for more direct and effective findings. This may be achieved through interviewing subjects individually, or even by conducting small focus groups where researchers can gather groups of people at one time and question their contemporary media preferences. This will allow for a more personable approach, and it will in turn gain more effective results.

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In my previous post, “A Tale of Tanya, Television and Time,” I conducted a primary interview with someone who provided a very unique insight into her contemporary, and past, media use within the home. She offered valuable information, such as her inner thoughts and feelings, that I would have had difficulty obtaining elsewhere. I engaged with her in a personal way, which probably made her feel more comfortable and willing to discuss certain topics with me.

When I discussed the above findings with my classmates, who also conducted the same task, I discovered that we all had different results. These results might have appeared to be similar if they were conducted in the form of commercial research. However, our research was gathered through personal engagement in the form of a one-on-one interview. For example, all of our subjects were of similar ages and had the same experiences with technology, but their thoughts and feelings about technology conflicted. I found this task to be an effective primary way to analyse contemporary media use within the home.

Commercial research tends to favour statistical data, such as graphs and charts, but these research methods are only effective to a certain extent. While “The Australian Multiscreen Report” by OZTAM is useful in demonstrating a broad and general outline of contemporary media use within the home, it doesn’t cater towards information that researchers can only gain from a more personable approach. Being able to personally question a subject about their likes and dislikes when it comes to media, such as television, will provide a better insight into individual cases.

It is feasible to propose ethnographic audience research as an alternative to commercial research methods, as individual experience should matter to researchers. If researchers can gather individual opinions about contemporary media, they will be able to further improve their technology to suit individuals’ wants and needs.

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Blackwell, T 2015, ‘A Tale of Tanya, Television and Time’, WordPress, weblog post, 10 August, viewed 17 August 2015,

ChrisFlipp YouTube Channel 2014, Ethnography, online video, viewed 17 August 2015,

Lasseter, LE 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 15-24, viewed 17 August 2015,

Regional TAM, OzTAM, Nielsen 2015, Australian Multi-Screen Report, OzTAM, viewed 17 August 2015,, ‘What to Expect – Focus Group’, The Social Research Centre website, viewed 17 August 2015,


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