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Putting ethnography to work: the case for a cognitive ethnography of design.

Ball, Linden J. and Ormerod, Thomas C. (2000) Putting ethnography to work: the case for a cognitive ethnography of design. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 53 (1). pp. 147-168. ISSN 1071-5819

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The methods of ethnography and cognitive psychology are frequently set in opposition to each other. Whilst such a view may be appropriate in de"ning pure, or prototypical, classes of each activity, the value and necessity of such a distinction is broken down when researchers are goal-directed to study complex work domains in order to foster technological change. In this paper, we outline a rapprochement of these methods, which we term cognitive ethnography. The value of qualifying ethnography in this way is to emphasize systematically the differences between ethnography as a radial category and the kinds of legitimate method used to study work practices which are often referred to as ethnographic, but which in practice di!er in important ways from prototypical ethnographic studies. Features of cognitive ethnography such as observational specifcity, verifability and purposivenes challenge many of the tenets of a pure ethnographic method, yet they are essential for studies that are undertaken to inform technological change. We illustrate our arguments with reference to a project to develop a tool for supporting design re-use in innovative design environments.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 53 (1), 2000, © ELSEVIER.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Psychology
ID Code: 10446
Deposited By: Prof Tom Ormerod
Deposited On: 15 Jul 2008 10:25
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 01:06
Identification Number:

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