Historical Social Research

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Grit Petschick: Ethnographic Panels for Analyzing Innovation Processes [Abstract]

Many innovations occur over long periods of time as complicated and dynamic processes. Ethnographies, which accompany innovation processes in real time, enable to focus on the process-accompanying aspects, like ruptures and change events, of such innovations. Though, such ethnographies require a great deal of (time) investment, and in most cases, an interpretation of such a process as an innovation is only possible at the end of this process, i.e., ex-post. Ex-post conducted studies, like qualitative interview studies, are not confronted with this problem. But, at the same time, they lack the situational detailed knowledge of the field to make statements about the innovation proceeding. Hence, for process accompanying investigations of innovations, I propose the methods of ethnographic panel: a mixed methods approach of multiple short-term field visits, during which, apart from participant observations, the ethnographer focuses particularly on qualitative interviews and conservations. In this paper, this approach will be described and afterwards illustrated by an example. Therefore, I draw on the concept of structural innovation.

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