Ethnographic methodologies for construction research: knowing, practice and interventions
Tutt, D. (2010) Ethnographic methodologies for construction research: knowing, practice and interventions. Building Research and Information, 38 (6). pp. 647-659. ISSN 0961-3218
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2010.512193
Ethnographic methodologies developed in social anthropology and sociology hold considerable promise for addressing practical, problem-based research concerned with the construction site. The extended researcher-engagement characteristic of ethnography reveals rich insights, yet is infrequently used to understand how workplace realities are lived out on construction sites. Moreover, studies that do employ these methods are rarely reported within construction research journals. This paper argues that recent innovations in ethnographic methodologies offer new routes to: posing questions; understanding workplace socialities (i.e. the qualities of the social relationships that develop on construction sites); learning about forms, uses and communication of knowledge on construction sites; and turning these into meaningful recommendations. This argument is supported by examples from an interdisciplinary ethnography concerning migrant workers and communications on UK construction sites. The presented research seeks to understand how construction workers communicate with managers and each other and how they stay safe on site, with the objective of informing site health-and-safety strategies and the production and evaluation of training and other materials.