Advancing the Value of Ethnography

The Ballast in Anthropology’s Ship: How a Universal Psychological Structure Can Provide Stability and Flexibility in Anthropological Field Work


Cite this article:

2021 EPIC Proceedings p 344, ISSN 1559-8918,

After a year of new social and cultural constraints, ethnographic approaches have had to quickly evolve. This is the story of how one research method, which enlists the help of close personal contacts around a participating respondent to gather interviews, artifacts, and locations, spotlighted the need for deploying a universal psychological structure (UPS). Even from emic perspectives, the influence of personal bias is uncontested, but how do we account for it? A UPS helps, but how can a structure allow lived experience to flow through it while not altering the experience itself?

We can anticipate that parameters around our discipline will continue to shift, challenging some of its most revered principles. How will the ethnographer adapt? In this presentation, we’ll look at the aspects of the human experience that we expect to change the least, and the structure we now have reason to believe will help the most. We’ll offer clear evidence for the inclusive functionality of the UPS, and directional solutions for practitioners to take up, personalize, and apply to their craft.

Key words: Psychology, Bias, Otherness, Embodiment

Ben Doepke ( is Principal, strategist, and researcher at IX. As a brand mythologist and ethnographer, I help my clients understand the essence and boundaries of their brand(s) and the people those brands serve. My life’s work is to ensure brand decisions carry due reverence for our state of human being.