Mixed Methods in Ethnographic Research : Historical Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

Mixed Methods in Ethnographic Research
Historical Perspectives

ISBN 9781629582078
Published March 3, 2017 by Routledge
356 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Mixed Methods in Ethnographic Research: Historical Perspectives captures the dynamic history and development of mixed methods research in a narrative of personal discovery, growth, and experience. Distinguished ethnographer and methodologist Pertti Pelto, who first called for the integration of qualitative and quantitative research methods nearly half a century ago, establishes a direct line between the earliest examples of ethnographic research and the ongoing mixed method discussions in academic institutions throughout the world. By bringing together such distinct historical perspectives with his own reflections on mixed methods research, Pelto offers a rare and endlessly enriching account that will satisfy the ever-growing need for a better quality of practical data gathering and give researchers a foundation for promoting mixed methods in the future.

Table of Contents




Chapter 1. Mixed Methods Research in Ethnography, Qualitative and Quantitative

Ethnography in Earlier Times

Al Biruni

Bernadino de Sahagun (1499-1590)

Applied Ethnographic Field Work, Cultural Patterns, and Research Methods

Applied Field Research: Many Disciplines, Many Players

The Different Histories of Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Applied Field Research and Academic Research

Disillusionment with Quantitative Surveys

The New Interest in "Mixed Methods" in the Social Sciences

Chapter 2. Mixed Methods in 19th Century Ethnography

J. Sjogren, Finnish Linguist-Ethnographer

Mathias A. Castren

Other 19th Century Finnish Ethnographer-Linguists

Vladimir Bogoraz, Russian Ethnographer/Linguist/Revolutionary

Franz Boas: Promoter of Mixed Methods in North America

Chapter 3. The Developing Discourse of Mixed Method Research

The QUAL versus QUAN Paradigm Debates

Many Problems in the Current Mixed Methods "Paradigm Concepts"

How Did Qualitative Data-Gathering Gain Acceptance in Quantitative-Dominated Research Areas?

A New Wave of Mixed Methods

QUAN+qual, QUAL à quan; Let’s Get on with the Fun

More Complex, Multiple Methods Mixtures (MMM)

QUAL+quan and QUAL à quan designs are very common

The Traditions of Publishing Make a Big Difference for Mixing of Methods

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 4. Culture and Personality Studies: Plenty of Mixed Methods

Life in a Mexican Village; A Study by Oscar Lewis and Associates

Personality Formation among the Navaho People

Acculturation and Culture/Personality Studies

The "Newer" Culture and Personality Studies

Acculturation, Self-Identification and Personality Adjustment in an Inuit Village

Analysis of the Data

Farmers and Herdsmen in East Africa: Effects of Ecological Factors on Values, Attitudes, and Psychological Characteristics

Quantitative Scale from "Full-Scale Farming to Full-Scale Herding"

Discussion and Conclusions

Chapter 5. Large Multi-Year, Multi-Site, Multi-Disciplinary Research Projects

The Hawthorne Study: Mixed Methods in an Early Applied Project

Yankee City Series: Volume IV. "The Strike: A Social Analysis"

The Big Strike

The Great Mix of Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative

The Ethnic Groups in Yankee City

"Yankee City" in Historical Perspective: Criticisms and Credits

"Public Health as a Career in Medicine:" Another Large-Scale Study

Phase Two

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 6. Ecosystems Theory, Adaptation, and New Directions in Research

An Early Applied Study of Up-grading Navaho Economy and Health

Massive Environmental Change: Ecosystem Effects of a Dam Project


Pigs for the Ancestors: A Focus on Ritual as Ecological Regulator

Quantitative Data

Qualitative Data: Ethnography of Ritual

Discussion and Criticism Sparked by Pigs for the Ancestors

Structural Change in Northern Thai Rice Villages

Sarmela’s English Language Summary

Focus on Agricultural Adaptations in Rural Mexico

Discussion and Conclusions

Chapter 7. Medical Anthropology and Mixed Methods Research

Another Epidemic: Diphtheria Immunization in Thailand

Sorcery and Medicine in the Philippines

The Sociology of an Indian Hospital Ward

The Complex Varieties of Academic and Applied Medical Anthropology

Biological and Cultural Adaptations: The Ecological Framework

Anthropology and Mental Health: Psychosis in East Africa

Long-Term Multidisciplinary Research in Selected Study Populations

Multiple Research Methods in Complex Ethnography: West Africa

An Unusual Category: Combining Ethnography and Quantitative Experiment

Intervention: Development and Testing of a Model MCE Program


Chapter 8. QUAL+qual and QUAL à qual Studies: Common Practices in Ethnography

Coming of Age in Samoa 1928: Margaret Mead’s Seminal Study

A Famous QUAL+QUALà qual Study: Street Corner Society

Getting Started, Learning Field Research

Components of the Research Methods

"Doc," the Most Famous "Key Informant" in Field Research Literature

Sub-Project: Mapping the Social Interactions at the Club

Other Examples of Mixed Methods in QUAL Research. Mixed Methods in Linguistic Research

QUALà qual Triangulation

James P. Spradley: "Grand Tour Interviews" and Other Special Methods

Extensive Participation: Sometimes It Is A "Supplemental Method"

Concluding Comments

Chapter 9. The Development of Quantitative Methods in Ethnographic Research

British Ethnographers Started Doing Surveys Early in the 20th Century

An "Experiment" with Survey Research Methods in Africa

More Specialized Survey Research "Experiments"

Small-Scale Surveys: Other Variations on the Survey Model(s)

A Different Kind of Mixed Method Research: Cultural Analysis of P-3 Pilot Error

The Study of High Concordance Domains

High versus Low Concordance Domains, and Sampling

"Tight" and "Loose" Societies

Cultural Consensus and Sample Sizes

Cultural Data, Key Informants, and Concordance

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 10. Food, Diet and Nutrition Studies

Studies of Food Distribution and Dietary Behaviors

Diet and Hunger in Northern Rhodesia

Hunger Months

The Monograph as a Classic Mixed Methods Study of Food and Nutrition

Diet in the Mexican Town of Tepoztlan

A Diet and Nutrition Intervention in South Africa

Nutritional Anthropology: Interdisciplinary Mixed Methods Research

New Achievements in Mixed Methods Diet and Nutrition Studies

The Role of Fruits and Wild Greens in the Shambaa Diet in Tanzania

A Study of Malnutrition in Mali

Research on Vitamin A Deficiency: A Multi-Site, Interdisciplinary Study

Hypothetical Scenarios for Getting Data on Night-Blindness and Other Symptoms

Multi-Year, Multi-Disciplinary Mixed-Methods Study in Central Mexico

Major Finding: "Small is Not Healthy and Happy"

Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 11. The Rise of Community Studies and Ecological Theory: Paradigm Transitions in Finland

Hilma N. Granqvist: Ethnographic Study of a Palestinian Village, 1925-1931

Research in Lapland: Kalle Nickul’s "Discover" of the Skolt Saami Community

Mapping and Other Mixed Methods Research in Suenjel (Kola Peninsula)

Kai Donner: Another "Early Modern" Contributor to Paradigm Change

Community Studies and Ecological Frameworks: Later Trends in the 20th Century

Adaptive Strategies in the Aland Islands

Community Studies and Ecological Theory in More Recent Finnish Ethnographic Research

Concluding Discussion

Chapter 12. My Explorations in QUAL+quan Research Methodology

Doctoral Dissertation Research in Finnish Lapland

The Upper Mississippi Research Project

Thinking about Research Methods

Thinking about Different Kinds of Societies

The Snowmobile Revolution: Technology and Social Change

Technology and De-localization

Notes on Methodology

Varieties of Delocalization: Food and Diet

Conclusions: More Recent Developments

Chapter 13. Triangulation and Descriptive Expansion: The Uses of Mixed Methods in Ethnographic Research

Exploring "Descriptive Expansion" and Related Purposes of Mixed Methods Designs

Understanding the Concept of Triangulation in Mixed-Methods Research

Broader Definitions of "Triangulation"

Triangulation Studies for Assessing Informant Accuracy

Key Informant Reliability: Another Look at Interview Data

Triangulation and Informant Precision

Comparing Individual In-Depth Interviews and Group Discussion Methods

Triangulation and Mixed-Methods Research in Action

Triangulation with Multiple Quantified Data Gathering Methods: Alaska

Triangulation at the Level of Theory and Data Analysis

Informal Triangulation in Ethnographic Field Research

A Loose Use of the Triangulation Concept in Ethnographic Research

Triangulation in Qualitative Ethnographic Research: A Case of "Investigator Triangulation"

Triangulation is Only One of Several Mixed-Methods Research Categories

Criticisms and Critiques of Triangulation in the Social Sciences

Summary and Conclusions

The Basic Lesson

Chapter 14. Two Decades of Mixed-Methods in South Asia

The Technical Assistance Program: "Building Social Science Capacity for Research on Women’s Health in India"

QUAL-QUAN Mixed-Method Research Tools

Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Data Was Already Common in South Asia

Developing a Manual for Field Training and Guidelines for Data-Gathering and Analysis

Other Developments in the Mid-1990s

Implementing a Reproductive Health Agenda in India: The Beginning

Reproductive Health in India: New Evidence

Ethnographic Field Research in South Asia

Women’s Perceptions of White Vaginal Discharge: Ethnographic Data from Rural Maharashtra

Evaluation of a Rural Community Health Program

Women’s Work and Child Health

Ethnographic Study of Sex Workers in a Red Light District in Kolkata

Examples of Mixed Methods Research in Bangladesh

The HIV/AIDs Pandemic and Mixed Methods Research

HIV/AIDs and the 21st Century in South Asia: Our Book of Research Results

Examples of Research on Sexual Behavior during the Technical Assistance Program

Other Noteworthy Studies in this Collection

Men’s Sexual Health Concerns in Mumbai

Women’s Reproductive Health in the Time of AIDs

Continued Research in Issues around Pregnancy, Childbirth, Abortion, and other Reproductive Health Matters

Summary: Mixed Methods Research in South Asia

Chapter 15. Two "Histories" of Mixed Methods Research

Mixed Methods in Ethnographic Research: Early Times

New Pathways to Mixed Methods in the 20th Century

Multi-Disciplinary and Large-Scale Projects Often Led to Mixed Methods

Inter-Disciplinary Research Teams: A Different Pathway to MM

Mixed Methods in Health Research

Ethnographic Publications are often in Books or Large Printed Reports

Quantitative Research Approaches Have Often Been Inductive

The "Other History" of Mixed Methods and the Recent Spread of Interest in Qualitative Ethnographic Research

New Explorations in Qualitative Research Methods, Especially in Developing Country Programs

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RR)

Focused Ethnographic Studies (FES)

Other Influences Favoring Qualitative Data Approaches and Mixed Methods

Influences from the Computer Revolution

The Big Picture: Mixed Methods Approaches Are Essential Because Each Individual Method Has Weaknesses. But There Is More: There Are Multiple Sectors of Data in the Real World

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Pertti J. (Bert) Pelto, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, where he played a major role in developing the program in applied medical anthropology. He has also served as a consultant for many international health organizations, providing training in mixed methods ethnographic research for community-based applied projects. Best known for his groundbreaking book on research methods (Anthropological Research: The Structure of Inquiry, 1970), Professor Pelto was recently (2016) honored by the Society for Applied Anthropology with the establishment of the biennial "Pertti Pelto International Travel Award," in recognition of his contributions to training in applied field research methods in international contexts.


Prime architect of the methodology of employing mixed methods in ethnographic research, Pertti J Pelto, traces it's historical evolution globally. His personal narrative provides practical, experiential learnings for obtaining nuanced answers to complex research questions. Through decades of work with research networks and communities in India and other developing countries, Pelto succeeded in legitimizing the once suspect qualitative techniques. It is because of his untiring efforts that integrating qualitative with quantitative methods has become the norm today.

Saroj Pachauri, MD, PhD, DPH, Distinguished Scholar, Population Council


Only Pertti Pelto could have written this history –a tour de force of erudition. The book makes clear that anthropology is and has always been about mixed methods, but social scientists of all stripes will find wonderful material here for teaching mixed methods.

H. Russell Bernard, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Florida; Director of the Institute for Social Science Research, Arizona State University


In his latest book, Pertti Pelto takes us on a captivating, personal and historical tour of the use of mixed methods in social science research. His narrative style and stories from the from the field make this both a fun read and an important reference for students and researchers who want to gain a broader understanding of past and present developments in ethnographic research methods.


Patricia Hudelson, PhD, Anthropologue médicale, Consultation transculturelle et interprétariat, Département de médecine communautaire, de premier recours et des urgences, Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève


In this immensely insightful, rich and readable ‘story’ of ethnographic research in the use of mixed methods, Professor Pelto reminds us how important is the historical perspective concerning research methods and strategies. In the absence of this clarity, social scientists and public health researchers are likely to polarize the discourse of qualitative versus quantitative methods and fail to take cognizance of various nuanced ways in which multi-method approaches enhance our knowledge creation. I can hardly overemphasize the timeliness of this book

Ravi Verma, PhD, Regional Director, Asia, International Center for Research on Women


Mixed Methods Research captures a wide and throughout picture of ethnographical research methods. It brings interestingly together the historical development and Pelto’s personal reflections on interaction of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Pelto’s wide experience of ethnographical research makes this book is an enjoyable reading and important guide for students as well as professional scholars all over the world. This book answers to a growing need for a practical guide in data-gathering.

Inker-Anni Linkola, Senior Officer, Sámi Archives, Sajos


Even in constructing his comprehensive and complex work on the application of mixed metholodologies, Pertti J. Pelto is a lively and engaging academic narrator, who succeeds to interpret deep issues and problems which have occupied generations of anthropologists. He weaves into the discussion his intensive long-term personal knowledge and experiences in multiple disciplines in various cultural settings, from the Skolt Sami in northernmost Europe to rural communities in South Asia. Pelto provides researchers and other actors, such as non-governmental organizations, with insights, strategies, and tools to apply mixed methodologies to health and social issues or economic and ecological understanding in an easily accessible manner."

Veli-Pekka Lehtola, Professor for Sámi cultural studies, Giellagas Institute, University of Oulu