Ethnography

Authored by: Kari Rönkkö

Encyclopedia of Software Engineering

Print publication date:  November  2010
Online publication date:  November  2010

Print ISBN: 9781420059779
eBook ISBN: 9781351249270
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-ESE-120044203

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Abstract

This entry provides one view of ethnography relevant for software engineering. In this entry, an account is given of the historical development of ethnography including the heritage within software engineering from computer-supported cooperative work, human–computer interaction, and participatory design. The underpinning assumption of ethnography that helps us to separate ethnography from other research approaches is explained. The situational-focused and descriptive mindset inherent in ethnography is compared with the improvement-directed mindset and strives for general solutions in engineering. The way the characteristics of ethnographic studies change when combined with improvements is presented. The ethnographic fieldwork program, together with data collection procedures, is presented. The way in which analytic programs can inform ethnographic studies is presented. The ethnographic presentation form and the validity of study results are discussed. Finally, examples of ethnographic studies of and in software engineering are presented.

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