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Portholes of ethnography: the methodological learning from ‘being there’ at a distance

Walsh, Julie, Khan, Asma and Ferazzoli, Maria Teresa 2023. Portholes of ethnography: the methodological learning from ‘being there’ at a distance. Sociology 57 (1) , pp. 243-252. 10.1177/00380385221122458

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Ethnography is, in essence, an approach to social research reliant on ‘being there’ and ethnographic approaches to the social world have been widely taken up in sociological research. In this research note, we share our UK-based experiences of ethnographic fieldwork with professional practitioners during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when ‘staying at home’ was the antithesis of ‘being there’. In doing so, we highlight opportunities the pandemic presented to re-evaluate familiar qualitative methods, to develop new, remote ethnographic research strategies and to examine the limitations of conducting ethnography from a distance. We consider how far we stretch ‘ethnography’ in a socially distanced context, using what we call ‘portholes of ethnography’, and we outline how our learning informs the ways in which we can adapt research approaches – driven by relationality – in times of crises.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Start Date: 2022-11-02
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0038-0385
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 15 February 2023
Date of Acceptance: 1 July 2022
Last Modified: 11 May 2023 13:52

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