What is ethnography? Methods, sensibility and product

Megan O'Neill, Merlijn van Hulst, Guido Notenboom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientific

1 Citation (Scopus)


In this chapter we start from the idea that ethnography, as it has been used in the social sciences, has three complementary meanings: it involves a particular set of methods, it comes with a certain sensibility toward the field, and it entails a certain written product. We discuss these three meanings as aspects of ethnography in the light of the history, development, and controversies in the ethnographic study of the police as well as more contemporary manifestations. In order to do so, we assessed well-known texts from before 2000 and conducted a study of works (all in English) from 2000 to 2020. In our description of the development of fieldwork, sensibility, and writing in ethnographies of the police, we touch upon a range of issues such as gender, multi-sitedness, street-level decisions, and the concept of police culture, among others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge international handbook of police ethnography
EditorsJenny Fleming, Sarah Charman
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781003083795
ISBN (Print)9780367539399
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


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