Ethnographic Approaches to Studying Global Institutions: Studying Global Health Policy-Making at the World Health Organization


This case study focuses on the use of ethnographic methods to study global processes, with a focus on how international institutions create policies that are meant to be globally relevant. Specifically, it examines the role of the World Health Organization in setting global norms and standards in health, with case studies on two World Health Organization policy documents ‘Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of foods and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children’ and the ‘WHO/UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes’. In the development of both of these documents, the World Health Organization engaged or consulted with the wider ‘global health community’, including its Member States and transnational food and infant formula companies and international civil society groups. The case outlines the use of participant observation, in-depth interviews and document analysis. It also offers practical and conceptual advice for carrying out ethnography in a transnational community.

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles