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The Ethnography Atelier podcast discusses research methods with accomplished qualitative researchers. We talk to guests about their experiences of conducting research in and around organizations, the challenges they faced and the understandings they gained. If you have comments about the podcast or you'd like to get involved, please contact us.

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Episode 9 - Steve Barley: Ethnography of Technical Work and Occupations

Ruthanne Huising and Pedro Monteiro  •  May 2021

Steve Barley - Ethnography of Technical Work and Occupations
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This episode features a conversation of members and friends of the atelier with Professor Steve Barley about doing ethnographies of work and occupations. In particular, we discussed his research about technicians and long-term interest in grounding organization research in the study of work and technology. In the chat, Steve shares his experience in managing collective ethnographic projects and his forecast of future themes in the study of work, technology, and organizations.


Steve Barley is the Christian A. Felipe Professor in the College of Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Steve earned his Ph.D. from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, where he collected data for his work on funeral directors and the introduction of CT scanners. He began his career at the ILR school at Cornell, where he engaged in several collective projects that went beyond producing new knowledge for our field and offered new models for doing that. He left Cornell for Stanford’s Department of Management Science and Engineering, where he is Professor Emeritus

Steve Profile


Further Information


  • Barley, S. R. (1996). Technicians in the workplace: Ethnographic evidence for bringing work into organizational studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 404-441.

  • Barley, S. R., & Kunda, G. (2001). Bringing work back in. Organization Science, 12(1), 76-95.

  • Barley, S. R., Bechky, B. A., & Nelsen, B. J. (2016). What do technicians mean when they talk about professionalism? An ethnography of speaking. In The structuring of work in organizations. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

  • Bailey, D. E., & Barley, S. R. (2020). Beyond design and use: How scholars should study intelligent technologies. Information and Organization, 30(2), 100286.

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