Document Type

Journal Article


The University of Queensland


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences


School of Communications and Multimedia




This article was originally published as: Green, L. R. (2003). Attempting to ground ethnographic theory and practice. Australian Journal of Communication, 30(2), 133-145. Original article available here.


This paper is a response to continued discussion about the necessary and sufficient characteristics of a claim to 'ethnographic method' when made by researchers in the Media and Cultural Studies traditions. Many of the seminal studies informing-particularly-audience studies research have claimed that they were 'ethnographic'. But is this a variety of ethnographic that an anthropologist would recognise? And if not, what kind of ethnography is it, and why might it be more or less appropriate as a research fromework than straightforward 'interview' or 'focus group' research? Further, when might we say that an interview is conducted in the course of an ethnographic study and when might we exclude a claim to ethnography? The discussion around these issues is fraught with a certain slipperiness in tenminology, and in the borrowing of research clothes from other traditions, but the Media and Cultural Studies canon is sufficiently robust to claim both difference from and similarity with versions of ethnography borrowed from a variety of research paradigms.

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