Indonesian Youth Ethnography

The Problem

An NGO was interested in creating an educational app for the Indonesian Youth. They were not from the region and needed to get a better understanding of the youth culture in this location and the most pertinent problems that they faced.

The Solution

An ethnographic study was designed. It was important to give the stakeholders a good understanding of this group, all the elements of their culture and the issues that they are most affected by, with a view to addressing them using a technological solution.

The Process

We started with some desk research and a digital ethnography. We needed to get as much background information as we could and review the work that had already been done in this location. We then set up interviews, surveys and group discussions with people from the country, which we organised these through liaisons on the ground.


Literature Review

We did a literature review of studies that were already done on the Indonesian Youth. This helped me to understand the context, the culture and a little bit about what to expect. It also helped me to map out various themes that I needed to focus my next phase of research on. 



Photo Essay

Photo essays helped us to explore social life a little better and to understand the emotions that are evident in everyday life. These were done by a colleague who was on location, but we also collected images that were sent online. 




Our survey helped us refine our research and focused on current issues the youth were facing. We tested the survey a couple of times with different cohorts to understand how widespread certain issues were.


We interviewed school children and teachers, with the help of a translator. They helped us get a deeper perspective on what young people felt about certain issues that were brought up in the surveys and literature review.  It also gave us an experience of their culture, demeanour and social norms.


Digital Ethnography

Because young people these days spend most of their time online, a lot of their behaviour has to be observed online. This adds another dimension to field studies. We went through the most popular social networks in Indonesia to understand online behaviour in context.



This was a very fascinating exercise for me. I learnt a lot about their culture and the people. I got to meet and chat with people who lived there and get first hand information to understand their perspectives. That is always a very valuable thing.

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