What is a Video Ethnography?

An ethnography is used to conduct research on culture, place, and society. It has been disputed for some time whether video is an appropriate medium to conduct this type of ethnographic research being that it diluted the research, meaning it subjectified the research. During the 60’s through the 80’s this conflict over objective and subjective came into focus. Many argued that an ethnographic film had to be an objective account of the culture and place being studied or that research would be tainted. Later, it was argued that a subjective account of the study was just as valid. But really even if video is taken out of the equation, the study still remains subjective. “The ethnographer must understand the impossibility of knowing other minds and acknowledge that the sense we make of informants words and actions is n expression of our own consciousness”(Pink 22).

It is true that the recording whether in the form of field notes, photography, or video is a subjective account of the field of study. We all see through different lenses and our past experiences and lenses effect the way we interpret everything. “A camera even if just turned on and let run to capture the ‘whole view’ still cannot capture it all. Any attempt to represent a ‘whole view’ itself constitutes a partial truth or fiction based on systematic exclusions”(Pink).

Instead when using a camera, the researcher frames vignettes or mini-stories that capture the essence of the whole. This is how we will create our video ethnographies. Our researchers must have a an understanding of what the focus of the research is? And from there, they will conduct their research using field notes, photography, and finally video. The final project will be a Video Ethnography.

Pink, Sarah.(2007)Doing Visual Ethnography.Trowbridge, Wiltshire:The Cromwell Press

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