Schensul, J. and M.D. LeCompte, eds. 2013. Specialized Ethnographic Methods.

Schensul, Jean J. and Margaret D. LeCompte, eds. 2013. Specialized Ethnographic Methods: A Mixed Methods Approach. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press.

LeCompte, Margaret D. and Sheryl A. Ludwig. 2013. “Defining, Collecting, Cataloging, and Analyzing Artifacts.” In Specialized Ethnographic Methods: A Mixed Methods Approach. Edited by Schensul, Jean J. and Margaret D. LeCompte. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. Pp. 1-49.

“Artifacts are things made, used, or given special meaning by human beings, and sometimes by other animals, and they usually are displayed publically. Artifacts become cultural when they acquire meaning or significance because of how they relate to the history, behavior, practices, and the values and beliefs of the groups that produce and use them” (1). Artifacts vary on the resources available to a culture, and how these resources are made of use in them. “Artifacts evoke the identities, concepts, and values to which individuals and members of a culture adhere” (8).

Goffman’s (1959) “identity kit” – markers of dress, behavior, cosmetic, voice, behavior that people adopt to shape and enhance the signification of their identity. Artifacts demonstrate the taken-for-granted cultural meanings that people offer value, making sense of the world, and how they adapt to the world around them.

Types of artifacts – text-based, semi-text-based, and physical objects

Consider the following:

What kinds of objects are associated with the phenomena studied? How do objects help explain something about the phenomena? What relationship exists within the culture and people, to the object, where the artifact is derived? What status is attributed to, or attributed by the object? What venues are the objects used or displayed?

Qualitative Content Analysis – “can involve any kind of analysis where communication content (speech, written text, interviews, images, narratives) is categories and classified” (32). Performed through comparing items against each other, contrasting like and unlike objects, looking for sequences of events, co-occurrences, negative cases, and evaluating patterns of objects — with the intent of looking for consensus (or lack thereof)


  • Third Space Identity (Franquiz 1995; Lorde 1984) – synthesis of behaviors, cultures, cultural markers, and beliefs to reconcile immigrant home and new cultures.


Franquiz, M. 1995. “Transformations in Bilingual Classrooms: Understanding Opportunity to Learn Within the Change Process.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lorde, A.G. 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Natasi, Bonnie K. 2013. “Using Multimedia Techniques in Ethnographic Research.” 2013. In Specialized Ethnographic Methods: A Mixed Methods Approach. Edited by Schensul, Jean J. and Margaret D. LeCompte. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press. Pp. 318-362.

Traditionally, ethnographers have used written records to note observation/responses, but new techniques include both text, visuals, video voice to complement traditional ethnographies. Video great for capturing behaviors, recording in-depth interviews.

Consider the following: What is the nature of the subject matter and its environment that proves necessary for video capture. Why is it important to video tape – convenience, capturing behaviors, expressions, etc.? When should recording (not) be done, and for how long? Should recording be continuous, and who should you record? What role will the videos assume in your data – as a part of the puzzle, or the whole dataset? Who will do the recording, and how will recording impact the responses of the subjects? Will you supplement the videotape with any other note-taking device? How will you ensure confidentiality/anonymity? How will you acquire and store the equipment/data?

CONTENT: deduction (specific research questions), inductive (allowing theory to evolve from the data), or abductive (integrating both deductive and inductive approaches in iterations).

Methods: Purposefully or randomly select segments of the tape to yield samples of data across time, contexts, and participants. Select relevant segments. Identify critical incidents – conflicts of ideas, negotiations, etc. (Meh).


  • Deductive –working with pre-existing theoretically/empirically defined codes, based on existing theory and research
  • Inductive – identifying codes represented in or derived from data to create a new coding scheme
  • Abductive – begins with pre-existing major constructs/codes, modifies theme through addition of new codes to adapt to incorporate outliers or new themes

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