Understanding ethnography: How REMARKABLE applies it in climate leadership

The REMARKABLE project’s innovative approach to qualitative research, through the co-creative process, highlights the importance of engaging stakeholders in the research process to produce effective solutions.

Understanding ethnography: How REMARKABLE applies it in climate leadership

The power of ethnography in research

Ethnography is a research methodology that allows researchers to gain deep insights into cultural and social phenomena. This approach involves immersing oneself in the field to gather first-hand experience, observation, and engagement with people, places, and events. By doing so, researchers are able to go beyond second-hand knowledge and develop a personal understanding and interpretation of gathered data.

The ethnographic research process typically includes participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. These methodologies enable researchers to gather, organize, reflect on, and interpret qualitative data. Through this process, researchers can gain a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the cultural and social phenomena they are studying.

Furthermore, ethnography is not just about collecting data, but also about building relationships and shared experiences with the research participants and the broader community. This approach allows researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the perspectives, values, and experiences of the people they are studying.

REMARKABLE’s approach

REMARKABLE’s ethnography-inspired qualitative research aims to produce recommendations that inform the development of effective project solutions. This research is designed to engage existing and emerging Climate Leaders in a co-creative process, where researchers and project collaborators work together to find optimal solutions.

Each leadership facilitator conducts various research activities, including interviews, field visits, and co-creation workshops/focus groups, to address challenges and needs from the ’emic’ perspective. This interpretative research perspective seeks to understand the world “through the eyes” of the research participants and is commonly used in anthropology.

IRI UL provides tailored methods and tools for conducting REMARKABLE’s ethnographic research, along with complementary training, support, and outcome analysis. Through its tailored methods and tools, REMARKABLE has shown the potential of ethnography-inspired research to address real-world challenges and create sustainable solutions.

The leadership facilitators take the step of validating their conclusions through a focus group activity with the engaged research participants. By doing so, they are able to demonstrate that the engaged Climate Leaders are seen as key project collaborators rather than simply a source of knowledge. This approach not only helps to ensure the reliability of the research findings but also reinforces the idea that the leaders are valued partners in the REMARKABLE project and their insights are essential to its success.

REMARKABLE Climate Leaders will build new leadership capacity across Europe through a Climate Leadership Programme designed with and for climate leaders. Through a people-centred approach, Regional Energy Agencies will support leaders of public authorities and communities in implementing transformational roadmaps and innovative solutions to achieve climate neutrality.

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