So, EOC can be used as a means by which to study the interactions among members of various cultures: being able to discern which communication acts and/or codes are important to different groups, what types of meanings groups apply to different communication events, and how group members learn these codes provides insight into particular communities. This additional insight may be used to enhance communication with group members, make sense of group members’ decisions, and distinguish groups from one another, among other things.
Originally coined "Ethnography of speaking" in Dell Hymes eponymous 1962 paper, it was redefined in his 1964 paper, Introduction: Toward Ethnographies of Communication to accommodate for the non-vocal and non-verbal characteristics of communication.
Several research studies have used ethnography of communication as a methodological tool when conducting empirical research. Examples of this work include Philipsen’s (1975) study, which examined the ways in which blue-collar men living near Chicago communicated or did not communicate based on communication context, and Katriel’s (1990) study of Israeli communication acts involving griping and joking about national and public problems. These studies not only identify communication acts, codes, rules, functions, and norms, but they also offer different ways in which the method can be applied. Joel Sherzer's (1983) Kuna Ways of Speaking investigates the ways of speaking among the Kuna of Panama. This is a landmark study that focuses on curing ways, everyday speaking, puberty rites, and gathering house speech-making. It was the first monograph that explicitly took an ethnography of speaking perspective to the whole range of verbal practices among a group of people.