To get insight into a complex community, problem or process of change, sometimes you need to look beyond conventional research or evaluation methods. Ethnography is a powerful way to step inside the culture of an organization or community, hear ongoing feedback from multiple points of view, and understand a program's real impact. In this guide, learn about ethnography's benefits and pitfalls, and see how grantmakers use the method to document, evaluate and improve approaches to youth engagement, HIV education and neighborhood policing.
This guide is part of a series on evaluation techniques, check out related content below for additional resources in this series.
Q: What’s the relationship between ethnography and more quantitative forms of evaluation?
A: Ethnography is often used in tandem with quantitative approaches.
One project, for example, used ethnography to examine the effects of an intensive form of policing. The police had put targeted pressure on street corners where drug activity had been observed.Read More »
A large regional foundation used ethnography as one component of the evaluation of a five-year initiative to engage young people as leaders in improving community health outcomes.Read More »
When grantmakers at a large international foundation decided to go forward with a major, multiyear initiative to support artistic collaborations between performing arts groups in the United States and Latin America, Africa, and Asia, a colleague asked them, “How are you going to know what experiences the artists have in all of this process? How are you going to know how the artists are treated and what their view on things is?”Read More »