Focused Ethnography as Research Method: A Case Study of Techno Music Producers in Home-Recording Studios


  • Jan Michael Kühn Technische Universität Berlin / Berlin Mitte Institut


qualitative methods, cultural production, music production, home-recording, technoculture


Translator's Introduction: Jan-Michael Kühn's essay introduces the reader to Hubert Knoblauch's focused ethnography [fokussierte Ethnographie] as an ethnographic fieldwork method. More than a decade after Knoblauch's first publications on this method, there are precious few guides to focused ethnography in the English language, save one (Knoblauch 2005). At any rate, there are certainly no introductions to this methodology that also use EDM scenes as a case study. Kühn's article was originally published in German in Soziologie Magazin, a student-run journal published from Martin Luther University in Halle (Saale) but operated by an editorial network that spans Germany. As a result, Kühn orients his writing towards an audience of junior researchers, post-docs and graduate students, highlighting the ways in which focused ethnography suits the circumstances of early research careers, where one may have difficulty securing long-term research stays for fieldwork of broader scope. In particular, he notes that Knoblauch's methods require a very narrow scope for the project (i.e., a "field sector" rather than the whole field), a reliance on the researcher's previous knowledge of the field, and short bursts of intense ethnographic activity in order to create work that is tightly focused but still rigorous and generative of fresh knowledge and new concepts.

KEYWORDS: qualitative methods; cultural production; music production; home-recording; technoculture

Author Biography

Jan Michael Kühn, Technische Universität Berlin / Berlin Mitte Institut

External PhD student of Hubert Knoblauch