Big Data and Ethnography: Together for the Greater Good

Vincent Charles, Tatiana Gherman

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


Ethnography is generally positioned as an approach that provides deep insights into human behaviour, producing ‘thick data’ from small datasets, whereas big data analytics is considered to be an approach that offers ‘broad accounts’ based on large datasets. Although perceived as antagonistic, ethnography and big data analytics have in many ways, a shared purpose; in this sense, this chapter explores the intersection of the two approaches to analysing data, with the aim of highlighting both their similarities and complementary nature. Ultimately, this chapter advances that ethnography and big data analytics can work together to provide a more comprehensive picture of big data, and can thus, generate more societal value together than each approach on its own.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBig Data for the Greater Good
EditorsAli Emrouznejad, Vincent Charles
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-93061-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-93060-2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

Name Studies in Big Data
ISSN (Print)2197-6503
ISSN (Electronic)2197-6511


  • Analytics
  • Big data
  • Ethnography
  • Thick data


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