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Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Ethnography is an increasingly important research method in the private sector, yet ethnographic literature continues to focus on an academic audience. Sam Ladner fills the gap by advancing rigorous ethnographic practice that is tailored to corporate settings where colleagues are not steeped in social theory, research time lines may be days rather than months or years, and ...more
Paperback, 211 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Left Coast Press (first published November 30th 2013)
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Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sam Ladner offers above and beyond, practical insights on what it means to do ethnography and more importantly, do it well.

Ladner's book is an excellent resource for all - from students to experienced practitioners in research to corporate colleagues wondering "just what the heck are my coworkers actually doing out in the field anyway?". She writes in such a way to make it appealing to the non-academic, non-researcher yet maintains the integrity and depth the topic deserves.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, work
Academia and the private sector are two worlds living on different values and timescales. So, Sam Ladner's book about crossing the two - namely, how an academic ethnographer can translate their practices of detail and rigor to the faster paced corporate world - is a useful addition to the ethnography canon. Very practical, it discusses both logistics (livescribe pens are worth the investment) and politics (detailed work won't get anywhere if no one buys in to it - be prepared to do a slide deck ...more
Lauren W
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
As someone who has worked with Sam, it was about time I read this! I wouldn't call myself an ethnographer but rather just a researcher. I found most of the contents pretty helpful, learned a few new tips and tricks, and identified things I've done in the past that I should correct when doing field research. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in ethnography and looking for a good overview and practical ideas and tips for how to conduct, document, and present meaningful research. ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux
One of the most delightful academic books I have ever read in the past 5 years. It is very enlightening for junior UX designers/researchers like myself to understand this notion of ethnography. Sam Ladner made it really simple for me to understand the basics.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like that this was written in an approachable way, with helpful tips and even humor. I read it for a course and it's on a topic I'm not all that interested in, so I can only like it so much, but for what it was, I'll take it. ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredibly helpful to me as I think about how to apply my knowledge and experience with academic ethnography and other qualitative research to my current work in the private sector. It addressed my questions and concerns about how the two sectors differ and offered great advice for succeeding with ethnography among stakeholders who may not fully trust or understand it. A great starting point, especially for anyone moving from academia to the private sector.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed by this book.

The self-righteousness and martyr complex bleed through the pages. Her need to make strawman arguments about people who are in the private sector are unfounded and do not match with my 20 years of experience in a variety of different companies and working with stakeholders in many different industries. For example, saying that folks who work in luxury don't understand the impact of scarcity and the messages that buying luxury brands have for customers? Or th
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, work
Very good and practical book. Written as a true anthropologist venturing out into the field of corporate bs. Lots of practical and hands on advice. Highly recommended
feux d'artifice
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, research
Very interesting advice, will need to go back and take notes
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Though I do have master degree in sociology, it's been over 10 years now since I've actually read something about the subject. Due to work requirements and my own interest, this book was found and read in almost one go. The author did a great job creating a piece about such (as many might initially think) boring subject as Ethnography. Being honest, this book has inspired to proceed learning more about usage of ethnography in business but also reading the classics on this matter. My dream would ...more
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
If you work in design, or any other field where understanding customer perspectives and values is key, you'll want to get a copy of this book. While you're at it, you might also want to get a set of page markers and a notebook. There is so much packed in to this concise volume, and none of the words are wasted. All essential reading and advice for using ethnographic techniques in a non-academic setting. What's more, it's written in an accessible and easy to use way, with tables of information la ...more
Ryber Torbjörn
Decent intro to Ethnography but more Of an intro to the real world for academics

As user experience consultant I wanted an easy not to academic introduktion to what Ethnography can help me with. I got some of that but to be honest it felt a lot like the authors own struggle to leave academia and motivate and explain for fellow researchers how to adapt to make a living working in the real world.
Alan Fricker
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work, ebooks
Interesting as set in context of ethnography as a work place tool rather than academic discipline. Focus is private sector so not all points applicable but clarity is helpful. Major background themes well introduced. Discusses ethics in private sector context and managing expectations of those requesting the work. Observation alone is not ethnography - there needs to be follow up questions.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book, very approachable

Even for someone not doing ethnographic research or UX work this was a very readable guide. Recommended for anyone who wants to know more about ethnography.
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Sam Ladner is a sociologist who researches the intersection of work, technology, and organizations. She has worked at major technology companies including Microsoft and Amazon, creating real-world technology products. She received her PhD in sociology from York University, served as Postdoctoral Fellow at Ryerson University’s School of Information Technology Management. She is also the author of P ...more

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