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Interpretive ethnography: a UK charity shop case study

Fitton, Triona (2022) Interpretive ethnography: a UK charity shop case study. In: Dean, Jon and Hogg, Eddy, eds. Researching Voluntary Action: Innovations and Challenges. Third Sector Research Series . Policy Press, Bristol, UK. ISBN 978-1-4473-5668-4. E-ISBN 978-1-4473-5671-4. (KAR id:89619)


Ethnographic research is widely used across social research disciplines examining the voluntary sector, yet its value can be often overlooked in the age of big data and impact measurement. This chapter will provide a brief overview of this methodology within voluntary action research, and highlight the key uses of ethnographies as a qualitative research tool. Drawing on an interpretivist approach, it will outline the utility of ethnography in a case study analysis of professionalisation within a charity retail setting. Using participant observation in two charity shops and interviews with shop workers and volunteers, the case study will illustrate the importance of participation and immersion within the research setting in terms of observing, recording and analysing ‘natural’ interactions and behaviours. It also explores the role of researcher reflexivity, and how micro-level “shop floor” examination of voluntary action can serve as a critical measure against data driven assumptions about contemporary charity work.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Charity Shops; Charity retail; ethnography
Subjects: A General Works > AC Collections. Series. Collected works
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (
Depositing User: Triona Fitton
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2021 11:54 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2024 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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