How to make an omelette: A sensory experiment in team ethnography

Anna Harris*, Andrea Wojcik, Rachel Allison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sensory ethnographers deploy methods such as drawing, video and photography in order to examine the more ineffable and non-representational aspects of practices. Usually, these studies are conducted by individual researchers who deal only with their own material. What happens when a team of ethnographers explores questions of a sensory or non-representational nature? How do they share their findings not only with their audiences, but also with each other? Team ethnography is becoming increasingly common across the social sciences and humanities, yet to date there has been little attention paid to the important work of communicating findings within a group. To explore this further, we conducted a methodological 'proof of concept' study, observing and documenting people learning to make omelettes. We found that sensory methods have a role not only in studying practices but crucially, in also facilitating a form of immersion into the ethnographic practices and imaginations of others within the team. In the end, we suggest that experiments with sensory methods, such as through proof of concept methodological studies, are useful for thinking about how teams of social scientists work together, whether their research deals with sensory topics or not.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-648
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Research
Issue number5
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Team ethnography
  • sensory methods
  • drawing
  • video
  • photography
  • collaborative ethnography

Cite this