Introducing Institutional Ethnography: An Interdisciplinary Feminist Approach to Social Research


15/01/2024 - 16/01/2024

Organised by:

NCRM, University of Southampton


Dr Orla Murray, Dr Liz Ablett, Dr Adriana Suarez Delucchi and Courtney Buckler


Entry (no or almost no prior knowledge)


Jacqui Thorp
Training and Capacity Building Coordinator, National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton

video conference logo

Venue: Online


This online 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 an entire approach to research with a specific ontology of how the social world works and the organising role of texts and language. In IE, the researcher ‘takes sides’ using a specific version of standpoint to explore how institutions work in practice rooted in peoples’ experiences. This often involves researching as, with, or alongside marginalised groups and making visible how institutions exclude or make invisible certain groups of people and experiences. 

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 and do a 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 Institutional Ethnography and the work of feminist sociologist, Dorothy Smith, who developed Institutional Ethnography 
  • Case studies of Institutional Ethnography research projects to show how it works in practice in different disciplines
  • How to translate your research into an Institutional Ethnography project using a research proposal framework
  • Practical explanation of how to do text and discourse analysis within Institutional Ethnography through a short text analysis activity 

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 

This course is aimed at academics, students, any other qualitative researchers, including policymakers, organisers, and activists 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


1 hour lecture by Dorothy Smith summarising Institutional Ethnography: 

Murray, Ó.M., 2020. Text, Process, Discourse: Doing feminist text analysis in institutional ethnography, Available at:


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: 

Smith, D.E. & Griffith, A.I., 2022. Simply Institutional Ethnography: Creating a Sociology for People. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

The course will run on 15-16 January 2024 from 10am-4pm both days.


The fee per teaching day is: • £30 per day for students registered at University. • £60 per day for staff at academic institutions, Research Councils researchers, public sector staff and staff at registered charity organisations and recognised 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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