4th Edition

Ethnography Principles in Practice

By Martyn Hammersley, Paul Atkinson Copyright 2019
    292 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    292 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Now in its fourth edition, this leading introduction to ethnography has been thoroughly updated and substantially rewritten. The volume offers a systematic introduction to ethnographic principles and practice, and includes a new chapter on ‘Ethnography in the digital world’.

    The authors argue that ethnography is best understood as a reflexive process. This requires recognition that social research is part of the world that it studies, and demands that researchers reflect on how they shape both data and analysis. Starting in Chapter 1 with an outline of the principle of reflexivity, against the background of competing research philosophies, the authors go on to discuss the main features of ethnographic work, including:

    • the selection and sampling of cases
    • the problem of access
    • field relations and observation
    • interviewing
    • the use of documents
    • recording and organizing data
    • the process of data analysis and writing research reports.

    There is also consideration of the ethical issues involved in ethnographic research. Throughout, the discussion draws on a wide range of illustrative material from classic and more recent studies, within a global context. The new edition of this popular textbook will be an indispensable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students, and for all researchers using ethnographic methods in the social sciences and the humanities.


    1. What is Ethnography?

    2. Research Design: Problems, Cases, and Samples

    3. Access

    4. Field Relations

    5. Oral Accounts and the Role of Interviewing

    6. Documents and Other Artefacts, Real and Virtual

    7. Ethnography in the Digital World

    8. Recording and Organizing Data

    9. The Process of Analysis

    10. Writing Ethnography

    11. Ethics



    Martyn Hammersley is Emeritus Professor of Educational and Social Research at The Open University, UK. He has carried out research in the sociology of education and the sociology of the media. However, much of his work has been concerned with the methodological issues surrounding social enquiry. He has written several books, including Reading Ethnographic Research (1997), The Politics of Social Research (1995), Educational Research, Policymaking and Practice, (2002), Questioning Qualitative Inquiry (2008), The Myth of Research-Based Policy and Practice (2013), The Limits of Social Science (2014), and The Radicalism of Ethnomethodology (2018).

    Paul Atkinson is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Cardiff University, UK. His current interests include the ethnography of craft and the craft of ethnography. His most recent books include For Ethnography (2015), Thinking Ethnographically (2017) and Writing Ethnographically (2019). He is currently an editor of the Sage Foundations of Social Research Methods. Together with Sara Delamont he was founding editor of the journal Qualitative Research.