A primary objective informing my overall research program is the use of social science approaches for studying health care. Institutional Ethnography (IE) is an approach that is particularly useful for revealing the organizational context in which health care decisions are made as it utilizes several types of data, including interviews, observations, and discourse analysis of relevant texts (such as care pathways, policy documents, etc.). People’s everyday lives are sites of interface between individuals and a vast network of institutional relations, discourses, and work processes. The object of interest in institutional ethnographic research is that interface between embodied individuals and institutional relations.  IE emphasizes people’s work – including the work of patients in self-management - and how it is coordinated with that of others. What is Institutional Ethnography (IE)?
What is Institutional Ethnography (IE)? IE shares with other ethnographic approaches similar data collection techniques. However, there are several key features of IE that distinguish it from other qualitative methods and that are particularly useful for my research. IE uses people’s everyday experiences as the starting point for an exploration of the often invisible social relations underpinning or organizing their experiences. Understanding the social world requires taking up a specific position as a starting point from which to begin to explore how things are put together the way that they are. In this sense, IE is sampling an institutional process rather than a population and provides an alternative to the highly abstract and theoretical accounts of the world often provided through mainstream sociology. Using this approach across several studies allows me to develop a program of research with clear clinical and policy implications that is grounded at all times in the standpoint of patients.