QR:  Sarah Pink: Doing Sensory Ethnography

Sarah Pink: Doing Sensory Ethnography

Initially, I struggled a little with the book, as my understanding of what sensory ethnography could be, did not quite match up with what I was reading.

However, as I read on, I realised that Pink’s understanding of ethnography is broader than that of a study relating to the culture or society of humans.
Really, ethnography in Pink’s view is a phenomenological study of life world and in the book she offers ways of accessing this life world through a range of channels. This is where it becomes really interesting. Pink suggests including the human senses at all levels of research. The sensorium, however, may differ from the typical five-sense-system in the Western world and would have to be adjusted accordingly.

Including the senses in a study would mean to talk about the senses, to involve the senses in analysis, to consider the senses in the dissemination process, to reflect using all senses.

So interviews may not be done conventionally by sitting down but whilst out walking or cycling, or whilst having a tour of a house. Data gathering would also include appealing to participants’ sensorium through video tours or visuals, through objects and artefacts.

Sometimes, categories would have to be changed and adjusted to fit the sensory quality of the individual study, so that “movement” for example could be categorised as a sense.

This book offers great justification for a less conventional approach to research; an approach where openness to what happens is paramount.