Ethnographic Methods and Work-Family Research


  • Charles Darrah
  • Alicia N. Murphy

Document type: Encyclopedia Entry

Appears in: Work and Family Encyclopedia

Year: 2009


  • Stress
  • Wellbeing
  • Work and Family


  • Anthropology


From one perspective, nearly the entire corpus of ethnographic monographs can be viewed as an important source of cross-cultural information about families and work, as well as the myriad other topics ethnographers typically include when describing a social system. Such ethnographies may seem archaic or exotic to the contemporary work-family researcher, but they document the creative capacity of humans to adapt to different circumstances. Despite the general value of these monographs, we focus the rest of this entry on ethnographic methods as they contribute to understanding the intersection of work and family as it has come to be understood in the past few decades. The challenge goes beyond understanding family and work as separable domains, but realizing that they intersect in complex, unpredictable, and even discomforting ways. In this sense, we may begin by looking at or hearing about work and suddenly find ourselves enmeshed in discussions of family, or vice versa. The following summary is not exhaustive, but it provides a sense of the scope of contemporary research that uses at least some ethnographic methods.

Link:Ethnographic_Methods encyclopedia