ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Gaining an ethnographic understanding of an urban place: The rhyme and reason of success and failure

Tracey Michelle Pahor

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 9 - Law Building, Room 102
Date: 2012-07-11 03:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-19


Ethnographic research requires the deployment of multiple methods in order to develop a thick understanding of the contexts, people and phenomena being studied. Such an approach is challenging, but worthwhile, in an urban area if there is an interest in not only what is happening, but why.

This paper identifies the strengths and failings of the multiple methods employed in 15 months of fieldwork in an inner suburb of Melbourne. The methods used include a doorknock survey, participant observation in groups and at events, interviews, utilising social media, and simply being there.

Discussion of the patterns behind where access was granted and denied demonstrates not only the researcher’s successes and failures in learning to do ethnography but, more significantly, the impact of the neoliberal context on the development of social structures in a growing city.