Social Research


Ethnography is an approach to studying the social and cultural norms, mores, values and beliefs, of a group of people. Ethnography stipulates the use of primarily qualitative research methods, to learn about such sensitive topics as substance abuse and sexual behaviour since such topics are reliably captured by survey approaches.

Some of the methods used in the 36 urban slum communities of Chennai for a rapid research ethnographic study include:

  • Participant observation: allows for the collection of behavioural data that people may take for granted so much that they find it difficult to explain in an interview. It also provides the basis from which to question, probe and clarify interview and focus group responses that contradict with what was observed.
  • Focus groups: are generally viewed as a method with strengths in eliciting normative data and generating broad sweep overviews of the issue of concern to the cultural groups or sub groups represented in the focus group.
  • Individual Interviews: are considered as the optimal choice of collecting data on personal histories and experiences, particularly on sensitive topics.
  • Stage
    Participant observations
    Focus group discussions
    In-depth Interviews
    Intervention Field group Training
    Pilot Component testing
  • Ethnography
  • Ethnography II
  • Wine shop study
  • Intervention


Assessments include surveys collecting behavioural risk data and collection and testing of biological samples at baseline and after the intervention is delivered, the efficacy if the intervention will be determined by examining change in risk behaviours, for example; condom usage, or number of partners etc. after the outcome assessment is completed, the intervention will be carried out.

The assessment study carried out in the slum communities gathers data on the participant’s demographics, residential stability, health and drug and alcohol use, sexual risk, condom use. It takes about 20 minutes to complete. In addition the above mentioned data is gathered by means of using ACASI (Audio Computer Assisted Personal Interview)
or CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview).

CAPI gathers various data from the participants on:

  • Demographics
  • Mobility
  • Understanding of the project and the Project’s logo
  • Exposure to HIV/STD prevention messages
  • Questions on General health and health care seeking practices
  • Sexual risk behaviour and condom use
  • HIV testing
  • Alcohol and Drug use
  • Stigma
  • Overall opinion about the assessment process and feedback
  • Any other comment/suggestions related to the study