Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Viewpoint: The faddish breakouts of ethnography

You may have read this article by, Clive Boddy (
Honorary Visiting Professor in Marketing at Middlesex University and Visiting Professor of Marketing research at the University of Lincoln) before so apologies for the repost.

It's an interesting read. Interesting because it misses a key point. That a PHD anthropologist is no better at conducting ethnographic research than a top rated agency planner with a first class honours in history from Durham, usability specialist or even a bright documentary film maker. I should know, I work or have worked with all of these people at one time or another.

The simple truth is that there is no qualification out there which can provide you with the thinking tools needed to observe & interpret spontaneous events, detailed behaviour, cultural backdrop and to translate them into meanings and business actions.

Before you accuse me of sounding too smug. I have made my share of mistakes in the past. But the biggest mistake was thinking that anthropologists alone were the answer.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Ethnographic Research - lessons from the edge: Thursday 4 June 2009

Here is the blurb for an Association of Qualitative Research course I will be running in June. It is essential for those of you who still go around doing 2 hour 'ethnographic interviews'. Urgh!

'Ethnography is a term that has been hi-jacked from Academia by qualitative researchers and applied to enrich the client experience of commercial practice. What we mean by ethnography and how it is conducted and sold to clients however can cover many variations and these can include both laudable usages and regrettable misuses.

Drawing from 15 years of ethnographic research experience, Siamack Salari will run a one day workshop aimed at anyone, both client and agency side, who wants to better understand the process and practice of extracting insight and meaning from video based data.
Siamack will walk you through real life client experiences including:
  • Selling ethnography to quantitative minded clients
  • Running multi country projects
  • Analysis and interpretation
  • Presentation and debriefing
Using existing work examples and specially captured ethnographic footage for the workshop, Siamack will also ask important questions such as:
  • How is ethnographic insight best presented?
  • What types of films do clients get most value from?
  • How does collaborative analysis really work?
  • How to write ethnographic proposals which inspire.

Greg Rowland will join Siamack during the analysis and interpretation session to help provide new perspectives and ways of thinking about video recorded naturally occurring events.

So if you want to experience ethnographic research, first hand, from the client's and practitioner's perspective in a live analysis workshop, using specially-captured-data-for-the-event, then this is the event to book.

Cost: AQR Members discounted rate: £195 + VAT (29.25) = £224.25
(Membership is individual not corporate)

Non members standard rate: £325 + VAT (48.75) = £373.75
(cost includes 1 year's membership to AQR)

Venue: Hotel Russell
Russell Square
London WC1B 5BE

Time: 9am - 5pm

Book online here or contact Rose Molloy, Secretary to the AQR Committee...

AQR, Suite 14 Davey House
31 St Neots Road, Eaton Ford
St. Neots, Cambs PE19 7BA

Tel 01480 407227
Fax 01480 211267

Saturday, April 18, 2009

11th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film

"Film is about the expression and representation of the everyday lives of ordinary people and communities, both near and far. By watching and sharing time with other cultures on screen, and experiencing other peoples’ lives, we gain intimate access beyond our own daily life and world view."

I think this is a 'must attend' event even for those hard-core qualitative types who have never really 'got' ethnographic research. It will be a momentous biennial gathering of the ethnographic filmmaking community... take a look here. Mike Yorke, the festival chairman, left a comment saying: "For commercial ethnographers and researchers this will get you minds burning. I have no doubt that the ethical issues will be full frontal. It is time we all came clean on the issues at stake. And for those of you interested in anthro/ethno film on TV, this will be centre stage. Look at the Programme page; we have a great selection of movies this year. And pleaase register online now to get it cheap. Best wishes, MIKE YORKE, Festival Chairman."

The cost, if you book before mid May, will be around £50. See you all in, Leeds, UK in July! Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good ethnographers are really just observational comedians

I have always stressed the importance of being able to see everyday events in fresh new ways. And observational comedians take this to another level - turning every day events most people wouldn't think about twice into comedy. Above is my favourite example yet. If anyone has a favourite observational comedy link, please let me know. Share/Bookmark

Meet, Dora from our Latin America office

Those of you following these posts will know that we have been opening new offices all over the place including Dubai to look after the Middle East and New York to look after the USA. Our most recent venture is with an amazing team based out of Sao Paulo and headed by Dora Fagin who I did a short but interesting interview with when I was out there two weeks ago.

By way of background, Brazil in one of a handful of markets which is still thriving despite the global recession. That said, most large client side organisations have frozen their budgets until further notice. And Dora believes further notice to mean this summer.

The filming was conducted in the outdoor space behind their studio office and what a luxury to have a full time help to make tea, hot lunch and tidy each and every day... Share/Bookmark