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Introducing Institutional Ethnography: An Interdisciplinary Feminist Approach to Social Research


Course Information


This workshop will introduce Institutional Ethnography (IE), an interdisciplinary feminist approach to social research that focuses on how texts and language organise our everyday lives. IE is not just a methodology, but a comprehensive feminist ontology of how the social world works which advocates using a form of standpoint to explore from specific perspectives. IE research ‘takes sides’, often researching as, with, and/or for, marginalised groups who are often made invisible by, or excluded from, organisations and institutions. The focus on texts – conceptualised as replicable materials objects that carry messages – allows IE researchers to ethnographically explore the organising power of language and institutions, made material in institutional texts which act as bridges between different people and places.

The overall aim of the workshop is to provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of institutional ethnography as an approach and the opportunity to translate their own research ideas and projects into an IE research proposal or small piece of text-focused analysis. This hands on workshop is suitable for students, academics, and anyone else interested in feminist methodologies, text and discourse analysis, and institutional or organisational ethnographies. No prior training in, or knowledge of, IE is required.

The course covers:

  • An overview of the work of feminist sociologist, Dorothy Smith, who developed Institutional Ethnography
  • Three Institutional Ethnography case studies from Sociology and Human Geography
  • Three text and discourse analysis methods within the Institutional Ethnography approach
  • How to translate your research ideas or projects into an Institutional Ethnography proposal/plan

By the end of the course participants will:

  • understand of the origin and development of Institutional Ethnography
  • know how to use Institutional Ethnography to analyse texts, processes, and discourses
  • have an outline of how their research ideas could become an Institutional Ethnography project

The course is aimed at academics, students, any other qualitative researchers or policymakers interested in analysing organisational processes.  Participants must have at least some experience in qualitative research methods, but no experience of Institutional Ethnography is required.

Preparatory Reading



  • Earles, J., & Crawley, S. L. 2020. Institutional ethnography. In P. Atkinson, S. Delamont, A. Cernat, J. W. Sakshaug, & R. A. Williams (Eds.), Foundation: SAGE research methods. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526421036759274
  • Campbell, M. L., & Gregor, F. (2002). Mapping social relations: A primer in doing institutional ethnography. Garamond Press.

Course Code


Course Leader

Dr Orla Murray, Dr Liz Ablett and Dr Adriana Suarez-Delucchi
Course Description


Day 1:

10:00 – 10:15 – introductions

10:15 – 11:30 – series of short introductory video lectures + 1 case study from sociology discussed

11:30 – 11:45 – short break

11:45 – 12:45 – Q&A on the videos and institutional ethnography in general

12:45 – 13:00 – explain afternoon task and split everyone into small groups based on research interests

13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch break

14:00 – 15:00 – Small group discussions divided up by discipline/area of interest; participants collectively discuss how their research projects would translate into Institutional Ethnographies, aided by a research proposal template and guiding questions - each group is facilitated by one of the three organisers & highlight any questions about the approach

15:00 – 15:15 – short break

15:15 – 16:00 – Three groups come back together to highlight key points of discussions and any final questions before explaining what will happen on Day 2 – participants will have to choose a ‘text’ related to their research to bring to Day 2 to analyse.

Day 2:

10:00 – 11:30 – brief introductions and 2 short case studies with Q&A

11:30 – 11:45 – short break

11:45 – 13:00 – Any further questions and introduction to the text analysis methods we will use in the afternoon

13:00 – 14:00 – Lunch break

14:00 – 15:00 – Small groups work facilitated by three organisers in which participants using text analysis methods on their research-related ‘text’ (in groups or individually)

15:00 – 15:15 – short break

15:00 – 16:00 – Everyone comes back together to discuss their text analysis and ask any final questions about how to do Institutional Ethnography text analysis, the overall approach, and distribution of follow-up resources.

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14/02/202215/02/20220[Read More]

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