What Are Some Examples of Ethnography?

Examples of ethnographic research subjects are found across an array of cultural, geographic, ethnic, political and identitarian boundaries from the homeless population in Chicago to Italian investment bankers or Sri Lanka female migrant workers. The scope of the types of subjects found in ethnographic practice is virtually limitless.

Contemporary ethnographic practice is found across a breadth of academic disciplines including sociology, performance studies, ethnomusicology, political science and linguistics. The types of subjects encountered within these disciplines are heterogeneous and far-ranging. Claude Lévi-Strauss was an influential forerunner of modern ethnography whose 1955 book “Tristes Tropiques” was a seminal ethnographic and theoretical text analyzing the formal organization of a Bororo tribe village alongside Caduveo tribe drawings. Through a comparison between the structure of the village and the symmetry of the drawings, Lévi-Strauss laid the foundations for modern ethnography.

While the work of Lévi-Strauss posited as its object of study a group removed from Lévi-Strauss’ own native culture, contemporary ethnography includes groups and identities across a seemingly unlimited field. For example, in the 2005 book “Auto-Ethnographies: The Anthropology of Academic Practices,” the institution of higher education is the subject of ethnographic analysis. An example such as this can be viewed as exhibiting a self-reflexive nature of modern ethnography, as the study takes its own position into account, along with the virtually limitless reach of ethnography’s subject matter.