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Jan Kubik

Establishing a dialogue between political science and anthropology, this chapter considers the tangled traditions of ethnographic inquiry in order to appreciate ethnography’s potential value for the study of politics. The term “ethnography” refers to at least three overlapping yet sufficiently distinct types of intellectual activity and research practice. The essence of ethnography as a specific method of data collecting is, of course, participant observation. Second, ethnographic models are built around specific theoretical assumptions about “reality”—or its fragment—to be observed (for example, holism of the social system in early, functionalist ethnographies). Finally, ethnography is a genre of writing (or, to be more precise, a set of genres) used to narrate the reality in a manner that is different from presentations of formal or statistical models. Focusing mainly on ethnography as a method of research, this chapter explores five types of ethnography: traditional/positivistic, interpretive, postmodern, global (multisited), and paraethnography. It also discusses case study as a method and its relation to ethnography.