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Workshop Ethnography of Everyday Life


Workshop led by

Piotr Chomczyński, University of Lodz
Magdalena Wojciechowska, University of Lodz


Whatever they substantively study, ethnographers’ proximity to their interlocutors’ lives and the challenges they face in negotiating access, building rapport, and working through evidence make their work distinct. This workshop is thus designed as a space where researchers can problematize their field site beforehand and think both through and beyond their observations. The workshop is divided into two parts. In the first part, two ethnographers will share their experiences of negotiating access, building rapport, and coping with the stories they heard and witnessed while doing research on sensitive, behind-the-scenes phenomena, i.e., female escort industry in Poland and organized crime and drug trafficking in Mexico. In the second part—only after discussing some substantive concerns, including levels of interpretation and the self as subject—a hands-on approach will be taken. Based on several group assignments, including the analysis of the video recordings made during the workshop, the participants will be asked to examine the dynamics of ethnographer-interlocutor interactions. A strong emphasis will be placed on developing rapport and learning from one’s faux pas—in order to get a better idea of what ethnography entails, but also to gather better data.

Workshop program

  1. How to get started and conduct ethnographic research (field recognition, finding a gate keeper, etc.)?
  2. How to benefit from using all senses in ethnographic research?
  3. What is effective observation?
  4. How to prepare yourself for an interview and construct interview questions?
  5. “All is data”—collecting all accessible materials as data.
  6. Practical hints for triangulation of all types in fieldwork.
  7. Researcher’s identity in fieldwork—dilemmas and practical insights.
  8. The role of emotions in fieldwork.
  9. What pitfalls should we watch out for?
  10. Ethical challenges when conduction ethnographic research.

Who should attend?

Researchers (both students and faculty) with an interest in finding out more about practical dimensions of doing ethnography.


A better grip on what ethnography entails, as well as a support for various roles as an ethnographer.

Piotr Chomczyński, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Lodz. He took part in a half year Eurica scientific scholarship accomplished in Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), where he has been carrying out the ethnographical research on organized crime and drug trafficking. As a team member of Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal he monitored the situation of inmates in correctional institutions for adults and adolescents in Mexico. Piotr Chomczyński is also a scholar of ministerial scholarship for young outstanding scientists. He was also a director or a team member of numerous national and international scientific projects (Ecuador, Germany, Ukraine, Mexico). He also gave lectures about sociology of deviation at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. He graduated from courses Scientific Writing and Statistics in Medicine at the Stanford University and Polish Science Foundation. He also graduated from postgraduate studies „Knowledge Commercialization” at the University of Lodz and passed international exam PRINCE 2 (methodology of projects management). He is an editorial staff member of Polish and international scientific journals. He specializes in quantitative and qualitative methods of research in the areas of sociology, management studies, and medicine. For the last seven years he has been carrying out studies on group dynamics and interactions among juveniles from juvenile detention centers in Poland.

Magdalena Wojciechowska is a Junior Lecturer at the University of Lodz and Executive Editor of Qualitative Sociology Review. She is also an editorial staff member of Przegląd Socjologii Jakościowej. She served as a guest journal editor representing Qualitative Sociology Review at “Qualitative Analysis Conference: The Social Construction of Boundaries” (London, Ontario, Canada). Her research interests lie in studies of members of marginalized social groups (e.g., she conducted research on female escort industry and same-sex female parenting). She is the author of The Escort Agency—An (Extra)Ordinary Workplace (Nomos, 2012 [Agencja towarzyska ‒ (nie)zwykłe miejsce pracy]), methodological chapters in books, and many journal articles, published, among others, in Studies in Symbolic Interaction.

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