Ethnographic Research

Hanna Risku, Maija Hirvonen, Regina Rogl, Jelena Milosevic

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Ethnography is a method of active immersion in a chosen empirical setting that allows researchers to learn and thoroughly understand the practices that are relevant in the field. In order to approximate this insider, emic view of the world, ethnographers participate in the routines of their subjects and record their observations. In this chapter, we explain the basic concepts and principles of ethnographic research and describe how ethnography can be applied to understanding the complex activities of translation and interpreting and the contexts in which their products are used. We discuss some of the contexts in which ethnographic approaches have been applied in translation and interpreting research and exemplify some special forms of ethnography that would be suited to certain applications contexts, namely cognitive ethnography, microethnography, and online ethnography. We describe the logistics and practical challenges of ethnographic research into translation or interpreting practices and discuss the issues to be resolved when selecting and entering field sites, informing, observing, and interviewing participants, and managing, analyzing, and reporting on data. Methodological concepts are illustrated with reference to two of our recent research projects: a cognitive ethnography of translation and a microethnographic study of audio description processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Translation and Methodology
EditorsFederico Zanettin, Christopher Rundle
Place of PublicationOxon
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-15894-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-06692-2, 978-1-032-19672-5
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks in Translation and Interpreting Studies


  • translation
  • methodology
  • ethnography

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 3


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