“Give me a word, any word, and I show you that the root of that word is Greek.”

*Gus Portokalos voice* “Ethnography comes from the Greek word enthos which means ‘folk people, nation’ and grapho which means ‘I write’.”

Gus Portokalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding)

The word Ethnography can be described as ‘virtually any qualitative research project where the intent is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice’. In simpler terms, it’s ‘the systematic study of people and cultures’.

Now we pose the question – what is ‘Collaborative Ethnography’? According to Clerk, T. and Hopwood, N. (2014) in ‘Ethnography as Collective Research Endeavour’, collaborative ethnography can entail a mass of differences between researchers, team members, subjects and those relied on for background information.

How is collaborative ethnography used to analyse media use in the home? Media in the home can vary vastly – from your iPod touch, to your 85” flat-screen TV that’s connected to Apple TV, the Internet and can control the electricity in the house and also streams Netflix and Spotify. Ethnographic research withholds an important contribution towards our research in the use of media within a home. Upon researching further, an example I stumbled upon is the show Gogglebox.

Gogglebox represents an array of people from different demographics, varying in ages and interests. Due to this wide array of differences within families, the possible outcomes that could come from the show were immense. The show represented and opened our eyes to the importance of the Television in relations to how a family functions and how relationships are had. Gogglebox represented different behaviours that individuals complete whilst watching TV. This includes phone use, doing homework while watching TV, and most importantly – how the Television brings the family together.

To ensure that Collaborative Ethnography is carried out correctly, it is vital to ensure that there is a collaborative relationship between the researcher and the ‘researchee’ – in this case, the families we came to know and love on Gogglebox were the researchees. Through having this view into other people’s lives, you come to love or hate some characters, and either agree or disagree with their viewpoint. Not only are you coming to grow fond (or not) of these people, but you’re also comparing your actions to theirs. Are you on your phone as much as they are while watching TV? Are you sitting in the same position as they are? Are you eating the same ice-cream? Thus, collaboration is successful.

In ‘The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography’, Luke Eric Lassiter argues that people can recognise urgent research much clearer than the ethnographer. This is clear in Gogglebox – as it is a medium that allows us insight into the importance of television in our homes and how this observation of media use compares with other people.


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Yeah Nah Aye

Matt Starr - UOW

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Media and communications student - aspiring blogger - Kmart lover - professional procrastinator


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