Beyond groups: Seven pillars of peopled ethnography in organizations and communities

Japonica Brown-Saracino*, Jessica Thurk, Gary Alan Fine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We extend Fine's (2003) model of 'peopled ethnography' for studying small groups to the study of larger social units, including organizations and communities. While studies of small groups often recognize the presence of macro-level social structures, they typically treat these as backdrops to the interaction scene which constrain and enable group life, not as units of analysis in their own right. Yet small groups are embedded in and help constitute larger units of analysis, such as organizations and communities. We argue that studies of these larger social structures can be extended beyond ethnographic observation of the interactions that help comprise them, making peopled ethnography applicable to units of analysis larger than the small group. We offer illustrative examples of organizational and community ethnographies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-567
Number of pages21
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2008


  • Community
  • Ethnography
  • Organization
  • Peopled ethnography
  • Small group
  • Sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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