The method involves a number of rules and methodological tools. It is not just a matter of going out and looking at people’s buying behaviour in a shopping centre, for example. The focus should be on the natural course of social behaviour rather than testing hypotheses. When the ethnographer goes into the field she makes a holistic study, that is, she studies everything in a specific culture or in a specific context that influences certain behaviour or a certain situation. By obtaining a holistic grasp, she gains an understanding of the causes of behaviour and attitudes. The data is then analysed using culture-analytical theory as a framework.
The interpreting and analysing process is of course influenced by the person who does the interpreting, and the values that person has. Interpretations are not only dependent on the personal background and life experience, values and attitudes of the ethnographer, but also on whether she has been accepted by the people who are to be studied, whether they were well disposed towards the field worker and talked openly and revealed their experiences. It is impossible to compile a completely objective ethnographic analysis, because it will be influenced by its context, the trends of the period, current social values, and the international political and historical situation. Also, each individual recipient interprets an ethnographic text on the basis of that recipient’s framework of understanding. But one’s understanding can be widened by presenting more realities, more voices and more verbal accounts. No other method has such depth, such humanistic perspective or richness of colour.