European Ethnology is a comparative discipline that focuses on everyday life culture. It researches the dynamic cultural practices which shape everyday life, as well as the perception of those cultural practices. In that approach attention is also paid to apparently insignificant or trivial habits and practices of groups and individuals in society. However, festive and special expressions of groups, such as feasts, rituals, religious practices, festivals and commemorations, are likewise part of European Ethnology.
For its research the discipline relies strongly on ethnographic methods that identify and describe the ways in which people behave or have behaved. In the analysis of that material the focus is on the often hidden meanings of cultural practices: why these things do happen and why they happen in that way. Why do people shape practices and express behaviors in a certain way in their social, historical and spatial context, even though it often seems to be against all apparent reason or logic? To help achieving that goal European Ethnology applies also historical, anthropological and sociological principles, theories and methods.
The discipline presents itself in SIEF’s short video clip ‘What is European Ethnology?’, while the following links give a general overview of the relevant University Departments and Programs in European Ethnology within Europe and the primary literature on the field.