The Sociological and Philosophical Foundations of Ethnographic Research

Journal of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, No. 2-3, 2009

Preliminary communication

Renata Relja ; University of Split, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 

pages 113-133

2-3_07_Relja PDF


The basic aim of this paper is to provide insight into the sociological and philosophical bases of contemporary ethnographic research. Accordingly, we start from a discussion of the appropriateness and inappropriateness of qualitative and quantitative approaches.The paper provides a discussion of naturalism and sociological positivism, which argues for the idea of the unity of the natural and social sciences. The application of relativism is recorded, which reflects the influence of the phenomenology of the 60s and 70s of the twentieth century. The anti-realist “rebirth” has also made a significant impact on ethnography, and its consequences are contained in the process of the acceptance of constructivist perspectives within the research process. This paper also examines the traditions of creative and interpretive sociology, whereas in the context of the relationship between poststructuralism and ethnography emphasis is placed on an individual interpretation of social reality and an individual position in the social world. The influence of phenomenology can be read within an emphasis on full participation in certain social or cultural groups with the aim of discovering its key ideas. Interactionist ethnography derives directly from organized assumptions of symbolic interactionism, whereas the contact point of ethnomethodology and ethnography is summarized in their overlapping perspectives which are aimed at interpretative traditions based on the life-world, which have similar views on the role of social actors and which avoid the typical quantitative theoretical approach to reality.


ethnography; qualitative and quantitative approaches; naturalism; creative and interpretive sociology philosophy; post-structuralism; phenomenology; symbolic interactionism; ethnomethodology