On Ethnography

On Ethnography

In turn creative thinker and street flaneur, careful planner and adventurer, empathic listener and distant voyeur, recluse writer and active participant: the ethnographer is all at once. In this book, sociologists Sarah Daynes and Terry Williams team up to explore the art of ethnographic research and the many complex decisions it requires. Using their extensive fieldwork experience in the United States and Europe and hours spent in the classroom training new ethnographers, they illustrate, discuss and reflect on the many complex decisions ethnography requires. This book will be particularly helpful for students in sociology and other disciplines in which ethnography has become a useful research method.


On Ethnography is an exquisite essay on the ethnographic study of everyday life. Page by page we step into the field and linger with Daynes and Williams, deliberate the knotty paradox of social responsibility, experience the self-exposure of documenting, and find ourselves debating the nature of explanation, description, and interpretation. An impassioned and persuasive treatise on the process of doing and writing ethnography.

Carol Stack

Credentials Professor, University of California, Berkeley, and author of All Our Kin and Call To Home

On Ethnography effectively describes the process of conducting fieldwork, while providing a rationale for the narrative style that documents ethnographically what subjects say and do together. Students of local culture will find this well-written and illuminating work highly informative and compelling.

Elijah Anderson

Credentials Professor, Yale University

Academic Subjects
Field Research