When talking about the purpose of the social sciences, one might suggest that it organizes knowledge in order to understand the world we live in and make predictions regarding it. Simple as it may sound, this notion, although universal, differs from one social science to another by the methods of research and study used in each one.
One of the methods in which Anthropology draws its knowledge is ethnography. According to Heather Ford and Rachelle Annechino’s Why doing ethnography is like walking around in other people’s shoes, ethnography relies on fieldwork and observation. It is the study of culture and people by putting oneself in the same context as the subject of study. Keeping that in mind, one should question the importance of ethnographic study; To what extent does ethnography provide the knowledge necessary for the means of anthropological research? The question is discussed in Caitlin McDonald’s Who needs an ethnographer? McDonald draws the attention to the importance of ethnography. She looks at ethnography as a necessary method; it gives a new perspective to the study because of the additional knowledge the researcher will gain while living in the same context as the subject of study. This knowledge is limited in other strictly observational methods of research.
In spite of having more difficulty when doing an ethnographic research, the knowledge gained from such research is highly important; It provides an insight to the study. This reflects the “organized knowledge” as a whole and contributes to the information regarding cross-cultural patterns.