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Recommended Resources for Conducting Ethnographic Studies

Updated: Feb 9

We have put together this list of recommended resources for conducting qualitative and ethnographic research. Please note that this list is work-in-progress. We apologize in advance if we have forgotten to add your favorite resources! We strive to update this list periodically and integrate more resources. Please feel free to circulate this list with your colleagues and students, we hope it is useful!


1. Conducting Ethnographic Studies

1.1 Fieldwork (Design and data collection)

Methods books and chapters

  • Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2011). Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Jackson, J. E. (1990). “I Am a Fieldnote.” In “Fieldnotes: The makings of anthropology,” Cornell University Press.

  • Spradley, J. P. (2016). The ethnographic interview. Waveland Press.

  • Weiss, R. S. (1995). Learning from strangers: The art and method of qualitative interview studies. Simon and Schuster.

Journal articles and special issues

  • Akemu, O., & Abdelnour, S. (2020). Confronting the digital: Doing ethnography in modern organizational settings. Organizational Research Methods, 23(2), 296-321.

  • Barley, S. R. (1990). Images of imaging: Notes on doing longitudinal field work. Organization Science, 1(3), 220-247.

  • Beaulieu, A. 2010. “Research Note: From Co-Location to Co-Presence: Shifts in the Use of Ethnography for the Study of Knowledge.” Social Studies of Science, 40 (3): 453–70.

  • Becker, H., & Geer, B. (1957). Participant observation and interviewing: A comparison. Human Organization, 16(3), 28-32.

  • Gubrium, J., & Holstein, J. (1995). The active interview. Qualitative Research Methods Series, 37. pp 1-17.

  • Small, M. L. (2009). How many cases do I need? On science and the logic of case selection in field-based research. Ethnography, 10(1), 5-38.

  • Star, S. L. (1999). The ethnography of infrastructure. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(3), 377-391.

Methodological appendixes (from books):

  • Bechky, B. A. (2021). Blood, powder, and residue: how crime labs translate evidence into proof. Princeton University Press.

  • Fine, G. A. (2008). Kitchens: The culture of restaurant work. Univ of California Press.

  • Turco, C. J. (2016). The conversational firm: Rethinking bureaucracy in the age of social media. Columbia University Press.

Courses and workshops

1.2 Data analysis

Methods books and chapters

  • Becker, H. S. (2008). Tricks of the trade: How to think about your research while you're doing it. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Becker, H. S. (2014). What about Mozart? What about murder? Reasoning from cases. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (3rd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Glaser, Barney and Anselm Strauss. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Aldine de Gruyter

  • Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Journal articles and special issues

  • Grodal, S., Anteby, M., & Holm, A. L. (2021). Achieving rigor in qualitative analysis: The role of active categorization in theory building. Academy of Management Review, 46(3), 591-612.

  • Bechky, B. & O’Mahony, S. (2015). Leveraging Comparative Field Data for Theory Generation. In K. Elsbach & R. Kramer (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Organizational Research. Abingdon: Routledge.

Courses and workshops

1.3 Writing

Methods books and chapters

  • Becker, H. S. (2008). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Golden-Biddle, K., K. Locke. (2006). Composing qualitative research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • King, S. (2000). On writing: A memoir of the craft. Simon and Schuster, New York.

  • McPhee, J. (2017). Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

  • Zinsser, W. (2006). On writing well: The classic guide to writing nonfiction. Harper and Row, New York.

  • Van Maanen, J. (2011). Tales of the field: On writing ethnography. University of Chicago Press.

Journal articles and special issues

  • Locke, K., & Golden-Biddle, K. (1997). Constructing opportunities for contribution: Structuring intertextual coherence and “problematizing” in organizational studies. Academy of Management Journal, 40(5), 1023-1062.

  • Thatcher, S. M., & Fisher, G. (2022). From the editors—The nuts and bolts of writing a theory paper: A practical guide to getting started. Academy of Management Review, 47(1), 1-8.

  • Special issue: Van Maanen, J., Sørensen, J. B., & Mitchell, T. R. (2007). The interplay between theory and method. Academy of management review, 32(4), 1145-1154.

  • Special issue: Köhler, T., Smith, A., & Bhakoo, V. (2022). Templates in qualitative research methods: Origins, limitations, and new directions. Organizational Research Methods, 25(2), 183-210.

Additional resources

Additional resources: Special Topic “From dissertation to book”


2. The Making of Qualitative Research

2.1 On Ethics and Moral Code

  • Becker, H. S. (1966). Whose side are we on? Social Problems., 14, 239.

  • Fine, G. A. (1993). Ten lies of ethnography: Moral dilemmas of field research. Journal of contemporary ethnography, 22(3), 267-294.

  • Katz, J. (1997). Ethnography’s warrants. Sociological Methods & Research, 25(4), 391-423.

  • Van Maanen, J. (1983). The moral fix: On the ethics of fieldwork. Contemporary field research: A collection of readings, 269-287.

2.2 On Conducting Rigorous Qualitative Research

  • Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1986). But is it rigorous? Trustworthiness and authenticity in naturalistic evaluation. New directions for program evaluation, 1986(30), 73-84.

  • Golden-Biddle, K., & Locke, K. (1993). Appealing work: An investigation of how ethnographic texts convince. Organization science, 4(4), 595-616.

  • Maxwell, J. (1992). Understanding and validity in qualitative research. Harvard educational review, 62(3), 279-301.

2.3 On the Perks and Challenges of Qualitative Research

  • Pereira, M. D. M. (2013). On being invisible and dangerous: The challenges of conducting ethnographies in/of academia. Gender Paradoxes in Changing Academic and Scientific Organisation (s), 17, 191-212.

  • Schramm, K. (2005). ‘You have your own history. Keep your hands off ours!’ On being rejected in the field. Social Anthropology, 13(2), 171-183.

  • Tope, D., Chamberlain, L. J., Crowley, M., & Hodson, R. (2005). The benefits of being there: Evidence from the literature on work. Journal of contemporary ethnography, 34(4), 470-493.

2.4 On the Life and Work of Ethnographers

  • Bourdieu, P. (2003). Participant objectivation. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 9(2), 281-294.

  • Kunda, G. (2013). Reflections on becoming an ethnographer. Journal of Organizational Ethnography, 2(1), 4-22.

  • McGregor, H. (2022). A Sentimental Education. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press.

  • Sanders, C. R. (2013). Learning from experience: recollections of working with Howard S. Becker. Symbolic Interaction, 36(2), 216-228.

  • Silverman, D. (1989). Six Rules of Qualitative Research: A Post‐Romantic Argument. Symbolic Interaction, 12(2), 215-230.

  • Van Maanen, J. (1979). The fact of fiction in organizational ethnography. Administrative science quarterly, 24(4), 539-550.

  • Check out this collection of videos recorded by Professor Melissa Valentine, featuring skilled ethnographers and the stories behind their research


3. Some of Our Favorite Books based on Qualitative Studies


Anteby, M. (2008). Moral gray zones: Side productions, identity, and regulation in an aeronautic plant. Princeton University Press.


Bechky, B. A. (2021). Blood, powder, and residue: how crime labs translate evidence into proof. Princeton University Press.


Beckman, C. M., & Mazmanian, M. (2020). Dreams of the Overworked: Living, Working, and Parenting in the Digital Age. Stanford University Press.


Benzecry, CE. (2022). The perfect fit: Creative work in the global shoe industry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Brown-Saracino, J. (2018). How places make us: Novel LBQ identities in four small cities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Chen, K. K. (2009). Enabling creative chaos: The organization behind the Burning Man event. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Desmond, M. (2016). Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Crown.


Ewick, P., & Silbey, S. S. (1998). The common place of law: Stories from everyday life. University of Chicago Press.


Fantasia, R. (1989). Cultures of Solidarity: Consciousness, Action, and Contemporary American Workers. Univ of California Press.


Gouldner, A. W. (1964). Patterns of industrial bureaucracy. Free Press


Ho, K. (2009). Liquidated: an ethnography of Wall Street. Duke University Press.


Kunda, G. (2006). Engineering culture: Control and commitment in a high-tech corporation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.


Lamont, M. (1992). Money, morals, and manners: The culture of the French and the American upper-middle class. University of Chicago Press.


Mears, A. (2011). Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model. Ukraine: University of California Press.


Orr, J. E. (1996). Talking about machines: An ethnography of a modern job. Cornell University Press.


Preda, A. (2023). The Spectacle of Expertise: Why Financial Analysts Perform in the Media. Columbia University Press.


Seim, J. (2020). Bandage, sort, and hustle: Ambulance crews on the front lines of urban suffering. Univ of California Press.


Swidler, A. (2013). Talk of love: How culture matters. University of Chicago Press.


Turco, C. (2016). The Conversational Firm: Rethinking Bureaucracy in the Age of Social Media. Columbia University Press.


Vertesi, J. (2020). Shaping science: Organizations, decisions, and culture on NASA’s teams. University of Chicago Press.


Weeks, J. (2004). Unpopular culture: The ritual of complaint in a British bank. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Wohl, H. (2021). Bound by Creativity: How contemporary art is created and judged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Zaloom, C. (2006). Out of the pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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