Week 8: Digital Ethnography

Ethnography, by the definition used within Pink et al (2016), is stated as “iterative-inductive research (that evolves in design through the study), drawing on a family of methods…that acknowledges the role of theory as well as the researcher’s own role and that views humans as part object/part subject”. Due to this definition, and others which multiple fields of academia use, Pink et al (2016) argue that those who use ethnography within their research do not always agree on the definition being used, therefore the types of research which is meant by ‘ethnography’ is not always agreement on. One of these research methods which is not always agreed on is that from digital ethnography. It has been argued that since digital element of digital ethnography does not centre around humans as individuals, but on data gathering instead, this does not fall into the category of ‘ethnography’. In counter to this argument, it could be suggested that as the data is gathered from humans, either in the singular or multiple, allows for this information to fall into the ‘ethnography’ category. Such a distinction seems both important and negligible at the same time: the question of the type of human impact and importance within a research method could depend on both the type of research being conducted and the context in which it works within. Therefore, could it not be argued that ethnography can, and should, be used within digital settings and platforms when the need arises instead of arguing for and against in the general sense of the term.



Pink, S. et al. (2016) Digital ethnography: principles and practice. SAGE

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