Papers 1: Renewing Ethnographic Theory

Stokes Jones
Event Time
Monday, October 15, 2012

The place of theory in ethnographic practice is to reflect, puzzle, re-think, and guide research practices from a ‘meta’ perspective.

Consequently, for EPIC 2012 our contributors have sought to renew ethnographic theory by questioning some fundamentals that often “go without saying” (even for a community as circumspect as ours). Thus, the role of Time, Endings, Facts, and Functions all come under scrutiny, as well as how our very “ways of world making” hinge on the categories implicit within our disciplinary commitments.

But, unless such reflective (and reflexive) concerns get reapplied in practice, there is no PRAXIS (to refine, or transform, what is done towards ‘the next level’). However, as the concerns of these authors stem from ‘real’ conundrums or opportunities in their applied research (and since they have already sweated much of the theoretical labor for us) hearing them should also help you achieve PRAXIS in your own work.

So the invitation is open - apply this thinking and learning to realize how engaging with ethnographic theory entails enriching your practice of ethnography.


Epic Endings: The Key Is Renewal

Tony Salvador - Intel Corporation
Dean Whitney - Catapult Thinking

Innovation is about new ways to do old things and new ways to do new things. Yet, products, services, systems and even countries do end. As markets become increasingly volatile, we introduce the necessity of the concept of designing intentionally for things to end by purposefully designing the rituals to go with it generating renewal experiences and providing an emic potential for creative destruction.

Ethnographic Temporality: Using Time-Based Data in Product Renewal

Sam Ladner - Copernicus Consulting Group

Ethnographic Temporality: Using Time-Based Data in Product Renewal: Breathing new life into a flagging product requires a deep understanding of the rhythm of everyday life. When do customers begin to use this product? When do they stop? It is tempting to rely on the automatically collected time-data from “big data” to answer this question. But ethnography offers a unique cultural lens to understanding the temporal aspects of the product lifecycle. In this paper, I analyze several technological products using the concept of the “timescape” and its three dimensions of time to show how products succeed or fail. I then suggest how to integrate this with digital time-data.

Function and change in China: Reviving Mauss’ “total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets

Min Lieskovsky - ReD Associates
Charlie Hill and Morgan Ramsey-Elliot - ReD Associates

This paper attempts to revive Mauss’ concept of the total social fact as a method to establish understanding of new markets. Our case study of alcohol in China illuminates the spirit baijiu’s connections to the total social facts of guanxi and hierarchy.  We outline a methodology based on using total social facts as a heuristic device, removed from the problematic assumptions of classical functionalism.

One Case, Three Ethnographic Styles: Exploring different ethnographic approaches to the same design brief

Fabian Segelström - Linköping University
Stefan Holmlid - Linköping University

To inform the redesign of a Christmas market we employed three styles of ethnographic approaches. The three approaches were based on (social) anthropology, interaction design and mobile ethnography. We present the methodology chosen by each team and discuss the nature of the insights gathered by each team.

© Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference