Ethnographic Analysis

Basic Definition: Study of beliefs and customs of communities

Steps and Examples

1. Pick a community

This is usually some type of online forum where people have the ability to interact with one another, a blog where people interact, a place where people post pictures, or even a comments section on a video.
The following paragraph is an introduction to an ethnographic paper.

Live Journal is a social networking site that has a strong emphasis on each individual journal page. More than one person can be in control of a journal page, but once a person has taken on that role it is his or her responsibility to make sure the site keeps up with postings. Each post presents itself as more a blog. This is to say that the post’s are usually longer in length, opposed to status updates or tweets, and offer readers the chance to comment on them. One particular journal page, Oh No They Didn’t: Politics uses their page to talk about current events that happen in our government system. The page itself remains neutral when it comes to taking a political side, which encourages users to look at different situations from all angles. Although most of the communication from this site comes from comments alone, the journal page itself has become it’s own community.


This is going to be the body of the paper. Observations include how accessible the community is, specific rhetoric of the community, and how frequent users are engaging with one another.

The following paragraph discusses the daily use of the Live Journal page.

On average there are five to ten posts every single day. Some stories are similar, based on a new current event or hot topic at the time, but generally the posts cover a wide range of media from that particular day. With each post, there is a comment section. A user has the option to comment directly on the post or to reply to a previous comment. The replies to other members’ comments are how conversations are usually sparked. The comments can range from 40-200 on a single post; it usually depends on the topic of the article being posted.

3. Interviews

It is important to remember to ask questions that require insightful and informational answers.

These are the questions used during the interview process on Live Journal.

  • Why do you voice your opinion on this site?
  • Do you think you get your point across effectively?
  • What is the best way to get noticed in a community like this?
  • Do you prefer the heated debates or the more rational ones?
  • Do some stories spark more interest than others?

4. Paper

a. Background: What is your community? Why did you choose it?
b. Findings: fan participation, overall rhetoric of community
c. Methodology: strategies of data collection, analysis
d. General Analysis: So what?
e. Conclusion: a final statement of the knowledge learned

The following link contains the ethnographic analysis of the Live Journal Page "Oh No They Didn't: Politics" in its entirety.
Oh No They Didnt takes on Politics

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