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Ethnographic Research

Sandra Kumar 58 London

Introduction THE OUTLINE

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Research Methodologies Qualitative

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Focussed Topic



7 Findings

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Personal Life





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Work Life


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Art Class Council 


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What makes Sandra tick?

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Introduction This report is based on my mum, Sandra.




Mum of three: two daughters and one son.

Aged 58.

Strong faith in Hinduism.

Fully Sri Lankan, Tamil.

Fluent in Tamil and ok at English.

Originated: born in Sri Lanka, Mulai. Through negative past experiences, Sandra lives each day as a struggle but embraces what she has and has hope for the future. Nothing but positive thoughts. I have been observing her extensively for 4 months and have gained data on the way she thinks, acts to situations, speaks, listens, the way she eats, and many more things: focussing on what makes her who she is.

the social side: defining who you are. But it is about understanding why. I will be reporting and highlighting the reason to why my mum is the person who she is by using qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

There is a reason to why my Mum is the person who she is. Living in a specific area, having faith in a religion, culture, teachings from family and friends and religion, the place she grew up in,



Research Methodologies By exploring Qualitative and Quantitative methods, I will be able to gather enough information in order to understand the subject further.

Focussed Topic During the 37 minute interview with Sandra, I focussed on her life in Sri Lanka as I felt that by doing this: I will be able to understand how Sandra built herself up and came to be the person who she is today. I asked about activities within school and out of school- as this is reflecting on social class, I managed to understand the position that she had within the school and outside life.



- Photos

- Creating Agendas and Minutes to record ‘Interviews/Meetings’ with the subject.

- Pieces of art work that Sandra has made. - Diary. - Face to face interviews.

- Questionnaires for them to fill out. - Taking notes on their answers to polls.

- Observing daily routines.

- Interpreting data collected from audio tracks and scripting it.

- Participating with the subject. i.e. Cooking and cleaning with her.

- Measurements of quantity of food eating a day and material using a day.

- Noting down observations that the subject makes.

- Piloting.

- Reactions.


The interview was filled with positive points and many comments relating to her dad which tells me that she is quite sentimental. I asked her if she is ‘Interested in politics’, she replied with ‘My parents are 110% politicians, I don’t like it though. They are fake’. She also mentioned her trophies and how she came first in all athletic events and was top in the class academically. She did not mention about pressure on being first in the class. Findings Sandra was a wealthy ‘upper class’ person who had servants. The upbringing of that however, has not had an affect on who she is today. I would assume that she would be greedy and arrogant, but instead she is the opposite. This shows the relationship that she must have had with the lower class servants. Sandra then went on to say that her dad spent time with lower class people, with anyone. This attitude that he has shown Sandra has grown on her. It is almost as if her dad was a role model to her. Sandra has an open mind, not liking politics due to the system being corrupted (in her eyes) and no one being able to execute what they promise. This conveys the message that she is afraid of war, afraid of negative ugly materials and actions that take people in life. Her comment on being first in the class also implies that there may have been social pressure as well as pressure from her family pushing her to do well.


Family Life Family is key to Sandra’s life. It has become clear that all of her ideologies, belies and important experiences have all been initiated from family. Both immediate and own. She got an arrange marriage at the age of 28 and married my dad who is a few years older. Me: ‘Do you regret marrying dad?’ Sandra: ‘ No, everything happens for a reason and I have my children. It is an experience’

Her mum and dad have had possible the biggest impact on her life excluding her own family. They have taught her their beliefs and so she has been brought up living her every day life as if she were in her parent’s shoes. SANDRA: ‘At a young age my parents passed away so I had to carry on being happy..’ Through the body language displayed as Sandra told me that, I could see that her tone of voice change and body language started to get nervous.

I want my children to have a healthy and peaceful life. I want the world got to be one. One nation and one religion.

This observation shows how important her parents were to her and that she must miss them.



Children have been the biggest impact on Sandra’s life. The use of language that she uses is reflective on her children’s ‘slang’ language. Through spending time with her and her son, I have been able to consider Sandra’s happiness

being reflective on her children, especially son. The ‘mummy’s boy’ makes Sandra a different person, one who is free from the stress and terror in the world. One who seems to be able to act more or so like a child rather than an adult. Whilst her son is at university living away, I can see a slight difference in behaviour. A sense of loneliness and so turns to her daughter, me, for comfort and ‘fun’. Even when her children are angry with her, she still seems to love them.


Work Life Working at Royal Marsden Hospital for 8 years running, Sandra has built herself up through the friendships made and skills learnt from work. Through watching Sandra for a few months, I have noticed that she has very good hygiene. She ensures to wash her hands before cooking and eating, she also knows how to cook. To have clean hygiene, be tidy and a neat person, work has definitely encouraged this behaviour.

Me: What do you think about your work colleagues?

Sandra: They treat me as if I were one of their family members

Friends ‘Nicole: ‘Say Hi to your mum for me, she’s really nice. Hope she’s well’’ At work Sandra is surrounded by people who respect her and cares about her. Asking me how she is whenever they see me. Positive acts like this makes Sandra happy as she cares about the people around her. This must be a trait that has derived from her parents and their teachings. Sandra has shown great charisma as she smiles when the people around her are smiling. This is important because it shows that she doesn’t not let things get to her; she enjoys being happy and fighting for that happiness. Skills


I have noticed that Sandra is fast at her job, she is quick and clean. She is always asked by colleagues to clean because she is able to clean ‘the best’. This is suggesting that she is a hard worker but also kind at heart if she is

willing to help others out when they need help. I also see a link between how she is at work and how she is at home. I can see that her religious beliefs and teachings have taught her how to respect the people around her. When she is on her own she finds it easier to ‘cope with other members of staff’ as she tries her best to do her best at the job. Through these actions, I can see that she is not reliant on others and likes to be independent and show everyone the potential she has.


Religion Sandra attends the temple on festival days and new years. She ensures to not eat meat on those days as it is ‘disrespectful’ to eat meat before going to the temple.

The patterns that I can see coming from her actions in her daily life, I can see that religion has helped her make the decisions that she makes. Through the teachings of her parents, Sandra has passed on their teachings onto her own children and brought them up in a similar


She also said that she respects all the religions. ‘Take the good from the religions and use them’.

It is clear that if it wasn’t for her parent’s teachings and faith, Sandra wouldn’t be the fragile person who she is today. Each year she goes to a temple in wales, as she told me about why she goes, I could see that she was pondering. It didn’t seem as if she was too sure about why goes; her body language was portraying a fragile, unsure mind. She then went on to tell me that she enjoyed the animals and peace that you get over there. I can see that perhaps faith isn’t concentrated on that much but the strength that she gets from the people around her.

I asked her what Religion means to her and she said that Religion has structured her life both in Sri Lanka and in the UK. But she does not focus on religion. I can see that religion has helped shape sandra’s life in a positive light. From this response, I can understand that Sandra does not rely on religion and her faith to help her get through life. She is already brought up by her parents who have taught her to have a strong mentality.

way to how she was brought up: to have a strong mind.

religion, she has not stereotypically been put into a social group. She is able to make her own decisions instead of using religion as an excuse for anything that may go wrong or right in the world.

As Sandra does not completely follow

I am independent because my mum and dad both brought me up with their teachings..


Personal Life Hobbies and Activities.


What makes Sandra tick?

When I asked Sandra about her current hobbies, she replied with ‘As a child? I used to collect stamps!’

Sandra is on a council that helps in creating a better place for the town. It also concentrates on ways to help those who are mentally ill. It is clear that Sandra have a soft heart, that she wants to do a lot for people around her. This is perhaps because of past in-depth experiences.

It is clear from the research and being around Sandra that she is a happy person in general. However, I have noticed that when someone in her family do not agree on something with her, she gets defensive. This shows a hint of arrogance and anger as she does not like it when her family do not agree with her on something. It sounds as if she has had a rough up-bringing even though it sounds like she has had a ‘perfect’ life. So the smiling is most likely to move on from the negative memories in her past and become a better person.

It shoes that she has an interest in her past, possibly misses her past. She enjoys giving stories of her when she was young and how well she excelled in her studies and activity life.

Sutton Borough Commander

Yoga In her spare time, she does meditation with friends at a centre. She enjoys Yoga, when I asked why she enjoys it she replied with ‘I feel healthy, it brings peace and harmony.’ The fact that she is so calm and relaxed, implies that she may have gone through troubles in her life and therefore she is now focussing on the positive parts to her life.

Home Has been a cook since a young age. Brought up with survival skills to be independent and carry on living life.

Arts Class When observing Sandra at an art class and linking it to her behaviour at home, I can see that she is creative. She enjoys creating anything as long as she stick pretty materials onto card! Seeing her laugh and get excited at creating something using materials and glue, made me correspond her to a child. Her actions are almost child-like but in a positive manner. That she still has not lost her young self, but still understands the importance of providing for her family.



When I was little, my brother was against me marrying an Indian

Camela Amalakumar Ethnographic Research On Sandra Kumar

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