Introducing Institutional Ethnography: An Interdisciplinary Feminist Approach to Social Research (join a waiting list)


11/10/2021 - 12/10/2021

Organised by:

NCRM, University of Southampton


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


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Jacqui Thorp
Training and Capacity Building Co-Ordinator, National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton

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Venue: Online


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:
  • Campbell, M. L., & Gregor, F. (2002). Mapping social relations: A primer in doing institutional ethnography. Garamond Press.


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.


The fee per teaching day is: • £30 per day for students registered at UK/EU University. • £60 per day for staff at UK/EU academic institutions, UK/EU Research Councils researchers, UK/EU public sector staff and staff at UK/EU registered charity organisations and recognised UK/EU research institutions. • £100 per day for all other participants In the event of cancellation by the delegate a full refund of the course fee is available up to two weeks prior to the course. NO refunds are available after this date. If it is no longer possible to run a course due to circumstances beyond its control, NCRM reserves the right to cancel the course at its sole discretion at any time prior to the event. In this event every effort will be made to reschedule the course. If this is not possible or the new date is inconvenient a full refund of the course fee will be given. NCRM shall not be liable for any costs, losses or expenses that may be incurred as a result of its cancellation of a course, including but not limited to any travel or accommodation costs. The University of Southampton’s Online Store T&Cs also continue to apply.

Website and registration:


South East


Ethnography, • Institutional Ethnography , • Feminist Research , • Text analysis , • Organisational ethnography , • Epistemology , • Emancipatory research

Related publications and presentations:


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