Well, this is a little awkward. Renee Hopkins Callahan at Corante/IdeaFlow is reporting on a conference that promises an “An Ethnographic Learning Journey IntoThe CPSI Culture.” (CPSI stands for Creative Problem Solving Institute.)
“Great,” I thought, “ethnography!” It’s interesting to see what becomes of this brave little method when it leaves the groves of the academic world for the “real world.” I have done quite a lot of ethnographic “export” myself, and in fact I am now working on a study for the Marketing Science Institute on this very topic.
Here’s the problem: the “Immersion Session” in question, the one that will “use ethnography as a research method,” does not appear to have anyone trained in ethnography attached to it. The leader of the session says that she has a degree in Psychology and that she is a “self-trained visual anthropologist.” Self-trained anthropologist? Oh, be still my acid pen.
Well, that could be something for Callahan to report on. If she sees an ethnographer, I mean. “News flash: ethnographer found at learning journey!”
This is a widespread problem. There are lots of people claiming to do ethnography who are, um, “self trained.” There are of no barriers to entry and no one licensing ethnographers. And the term “ethnography” is now so sought after in certain circles that there is plenty of demand.
For all I know, the CPSI “ethnographer” is smart and variously gifted enough to do a great job leading the research and creating the “immersion.” But it is not clear to me that the term “ethnography” is properly used here.