Ethnography is a form of qualitative research that studies people and explores cultural phenomena. Culture is what distinguishes one group from another and includes attitudes, customs, beliefs and norms. Most of us are familiar with regional cultures that distinguish nationalities and groups within countries and geographic locations, but cultures also vary among families, organizations and their departments, professions an any other organized group.
Ethnography observes groups and societies from the point of view of its members. The results of an ethnographic study reflect the knowledge and system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group. Data collection also includes information about the history and analysis of the group, physical surroundings and the environment.
Ethnographic studies are detailed and complex recording observed patterns of behaviors, ideas, beliefs, activities, language and other expressions of communication. The purpose of this type of study is to make a significant contribution toward understanding the social life of humans by describing cultural groups.
Gaining a greater understanding of cultural groups fosters opportunity to understand the specific health and wellness needs of a society, provide resources and services and support the health outcomes that are culturally meaningful to the group.