Sarah Abbott and Philip Vannini’s co-written chapter, “Going public: The reach and impact of ethnographic research,” published in The Handbook of Arts-Based Research edited by Patricia Leavy. The chapter includes writing about ethnographic approaches in documentary filmmaking, with a look at the documentaries How a People Live (Lisa Jackson, 2013), Walking Under Water (Eliza Kubarska, 2014), Happiness (Thomas Balmès, 2013), Life Off Grid (Jonathan Taggart, 2015), and Tide Marks (Sarah Abbott, 2004).

In this chapter, we focus our attention on how ethnographers—arts-inspired ethnographers in particular—can go public with their research. We use the word “ethnography” liberally, including within its broad umbrella all forms of qualitative research carried out with the direct participation of human subjects, from interviewing to observation, from oral history to action research, and everything in between. We write this chapter from direct experience, having reached out to popular audiences through writing and audiovisual media throughout our careers. Though we firmly believe not all topics can (or should) be easily popularized, we are confident in stating that going public with one’s ethnographic research can have enormously positive benefits for the broader public, for research participants, for students and research collaborators, and for ourselves as academics.  (Vannini and Abbott, pp. 689-690)

Vannini, P. & Abbott S. (2018). Going public: The reach and impact of ethnographic research. In Leavy, P. (Ed.), Handbook of arts-based research (pp. 689-704). New York: Guilford Press.

Link to book here.

Book cover + header image: Artist unknown.