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Ethnography as Work: Some Rules of Engagement


  • John Van Maanen


Ethnography is both a methodological approach to and an analytic perspective on social research. It has a long history and pedigree in organization and management studies and well beyond. Perhaps the most distinctive features of ethnography are its pragmatic orientations and its written products. As a way of responding to Tony Watson's essay, I look at three constitutive (and overlapping) tasks – fieldwork, headwork, and textwork – as a way to sketch out a few craft-like rules for ‘how things work’ within ethnographic circles. This is an enlargement of Tony's argument rather than a challenge. I conclude however with remarks on two areas (i.e. the native's point of view and the peripheral position of ethnography) where Tony and I seem to differ.

Suggested Citation

  • John Van Maanen, 2011. "Ethnography as Work: Some Rules of Engagement," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 218-234, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:48:y:2011:i:1:p:218-234

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    Cited by:

    1. Leo McCann & Edward Granter & Paula Hyde & John Hassard, 2013. "Still Blue-Collar after all these Years? An Ethnography of the Professionalization of Emergency Ambulance Work," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(5), pages 750-776, July.
    2. Editors, 2011. "Ethnography in the Context of Management and Organizational Research: Its Scope and Methods, and Why We Need More of It," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 198-201, January.
    3. repec:bla:jomstd:v:54:y:2017:i:3:p:368-383 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Morlacchi, Piera & Nelson, Richard R., 2011. "How medical practice evolves: Learning to treat failing hearts with an implantable device," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 511-525, May.
    5. Fischer, Michael Daniel & Ferlie, Ewan, 2013. "Resisting hybridisation between modes of clinical risk management: Contradiction, contest, and the production of intractable conflict," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 30-49.
    6. repec:kap:jbuset:v:148:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3102-1 is not listed on IDEAS

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