International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 334

Article in Press

Doing Ethnography in an Oil Refinery, Nigeria: An Epistemological Concern


  •  Received: 16 January 2020
  •  Accepted: 11 January 2023
This Paper contributes to the arguments on the need for researcher doing workplace study to pay attention to nuanced issues that underpin his workplace ethnography. The paper does this through a critical ethnographic perspective, to demonstrate how the context of a workplace should influence the method of knowing the workplace. It offers a critical explanation as to why a researcher should adopt a more reflexive approach in the study of the research setting. Reflexivity by a researcher enriches his appreciation and understanding of research context from the standpoint of the research subjects. Drawing on extensive in-situ observation and ethnographic study of an oil refinery, in Nigeria, the paper evaluates the “problematic”, associated with labour process and managerial practices in the refinery. In particular, the paper is concerned with the explanations of workers and their lived-work experiences of labour process, in the context of ensuing managerial practices; given the peculiarities of the refinery as a State Owned Enterprise. In doing workplace study, the paper suggests an “emic perspective” that privileges our understanding of the research subjects’ orientation in their “cultural milieu”.

Keywords: Ethnography, workplace study, oil refinery, workers experience, labour process