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Digital ethnography

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... In this paper, we use the term digital ethnography (Kaur-Gill & Dutta, 2017;Murthy, 2008;Varis, 2016), however, there are several other names that refer to the same type of research methodology: Virtual Ethnography (Crichton & Kinash, 2003;Hine, 2000); Connective Ethnography (Hine, 2007;Pink et al., 2016) Internet ethnography (Miller & Slater, 2000;Keim-Malpass et al., 2014); Netnography (Jong, 2017) Cyber-ethnography (Keeley-Browne, 2011) Network ethnography (Howard, 2002); Online ethnography (Markham, 2005) Social Media ethnography (Postill & Pink, 2012). ...
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Ethnographies involve the exploration of social phenomena in the field, typically for an extended period of time. Traditionally, ethnographers listen to, observe, and directly communicate with the subjects of their research. At its essence, ethnography is about storytelling, and the data are collected through human interaction. With the development of new technologies, and with the plethora of social media platforms, the manner in which many stories are told has become significantly more varied. Accordingly, digital ethnography has emerged as a new approach to conducting ethnographies. In the present study, we focus specifically on the use of digital ethnographies in third sector studies. Building on our own experience using digital ethnography, collecting data from Facebook pages and groups, blogs, and websites of nonprofit organizations and individual volunteers and donors, we describe two different ways of conducting digital ethnography: One, at the micro-level, explores human milk donations to nonprofit milk banks. The second, at the meso-level, explores a community of migrant workers. We aim to outline the potential, limitations, and ethical considerations of this methodology.
... In accordance with most newer textbooks and handbooks (e.g. Hjorth et al., 2017;Pink et al., 2016;Varis, 2016), this paper uses digital ethnography as the umbrella term; it is one of several labels describing ethnographic research in digital contexts (Hetland & Mørch, 2016). This encompasses virtual ethnography (Hine, 2000), netnography (Kozinets, 1998), and cyber-ethnography (Ward, 1999), as well as the more generic Internet ethnography and online ethnography. ...
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To understand how the digitalization of higher education influences the inter-relationship between students, teachers, and their broader contexts, research must account for the social, cultural, political, and embodied aspects of teaching and learning in digital environments. Digital ethnography is a research method that can generate rich contextual knowledge of online experiences. However, how this methodology translates to higher education is less clear. In order to explore the opportunities that digital ethnography can provide in higher education research, this paper presents a methodological review of previous research, and discusses the implications for future practice. Through a systematic search of five research databases, we found 20 papers that report using digital ethnographies to explore teaching and learning in higher education. The review synthesizes and discusses how data collection, rigour, and ethics are handled in this body of research, with a focus on the specific methodological challenges that emerge when doing digital ethnographic research in a higher education setting. The review also identifies opportunities for improvement—especially related to participant observation from the student perspective, researcher reflexivity in relation to the dual teacher-researcher role, and increased diversity of data types. This leads us to conclude that higher education research, tasked with understanding an explosion of new digital practices, could benefit from a more rigorous and expanded use of digital ethnography.
... Social media, therefore, became a rich source of data for the events. Engaging with digital ethnography as an approach to studying digital communication (Varis, 2016), I was able to glean the 'grounded aesthetics' of each of the events, connecting both online and offline fieldwork settings. As Pink argues (2011) this enables us to rethink the ethnographic encounter. ...
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Showcasing plays a fundamental role in arts education programmes. This paper presents an approach to research scenarios which explore ‘event-centred’ projects. Drawing on arts-based methodologies and research projects, this approach could be extended to the study of seasonal rituals, festivals and other types of organisational settings in which creative work culminates in some type of public display. This paper defines the key features of this method, which draw on Paul Willis’ concept of ‘grounded aesthetics’ and Sarah Pink’s work on the sensorial and embodied experience. I discuss the experimentation with various digital media and documentation strategies which adopt a participatory and collaborative perspective. I focus on how the sensorial, multimodal and collaborative approaches to ethnography are used within event-centred research projects which complement more ‘traditional’ ethnographic approaches. Finally, this paper offers a methodological contribution regarding how to unpack the ‘grounded aesthetics’ of specific contexts and communities.
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The chapter will instruct readers into the fundamentals of online social research, filling a vital, instructional gap in the literature. After a summary of the theoretical path towards digital ethnography and a description of the discipline's overall strengths, the chapter will begin a practical breakdown of the research planning and execution processes. This will follow the following steps: preparation and entrée, sample design, quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection, and ethical considerations. All the above will be informed by the researcher's own experience and will be geared towards under- or post-grad anthropology and ethnography students with some experience with online spaces.
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This article examines the Facebook group #jagärhär, a Sweden-based collective of thousands of people who have made a regular practice of responding en masse to what they regard as hateful comments online. #jagärhar is one of the largest and best-organized collective efforts to respond directly to hatred online anywhere in the world. Drawing on data collected through ethnographic observation and interviews, the article explores two primary research questions: (1) how do the external counterspeech actions of group members work to counter hatred (and, sometimes, misinformation)? and (2) how do the internal practices of the group keep members engaged? I argue that instead of focusing their work on preventing future hateful speech (presumably by changing the minds or incentives of those who post it), #jagärhär members fight against its effects—attempting to lessen the impact of the hateful speech by hiding it in the comment threads, speaking to the “movable middle” rather than those posting hatred, and encouraging more counterspeech against it.
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This article introduces the concept of the polymedia repertoire to explore how social meaning is indexed through the interplay of communicative resources at different levels of expression (from choice of media to individual signs) in digitally mediated interactions. The multi-layered polymedia repertoire highlights how people move fluidly between media platforms, semiotic modes and linguistic resources in the course of their everyday interactions, and enables us to locate digital communications within individuals’ wider practices. The potential of our theoretical contribution is illustrated through analysis of mobile phone messaging between participants in a large multi-sited ethnography of the communicative practices of multilingual migrants working in linguistically diverse UK city neighbourhoods. Our analysis of mobile messaging exchanges in a day-in-the-life of these networked individuals reveals the importance of device attention in shaping interpersonal interactions, as well as the complex ways in which choices at different levels of a polymedia repertoire are structured by social relationships, communicative purpose and (dis)identification processes.
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In the 21st century academic activity and communication are mediated by digital technologies, which enable scholars to engage in new social practices. Although ethnography is an appropriate approach to analyse these practices, the online environment, with its constraints and affordances, requires adjustments in pre-digital ethnography, regarding, among others, how the setting of research is defined, or how observation or interviews are conducted (Garcia, Standlee, Bechkoff, & Cui, 2009). This chapter provides a review of ethnographically-oriented research on academic communication in online settings and of the different ethnographic approaches that are being used to analyse scholars’ digital practices. By doing so, the chapter contributes to the overall aims of the book by offering useful insights to advance the methodological knowledge of researchers interested in (online) academic practices.
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This study aimed to present the status quo of linguistic studies on social media in the past decade. In particular, it conducted a bibliometric analysis of articles from the field of linguistics of the database of Web of Science Core Collection with the aid of the tool CiteSpace to identify the general characteristics, major strands of linguistics, main research methods, and important research themes in the area of linguistic studies on social media. The main findings are summarized as follows. First, the study reported the publication trend, main publication venues, researched social media platforms, and languages used in researched social media. Second, sociolinguistics and pragmatics were found to be major strands of linguistics used in relevant studies. Third, the study identified seven main research methods: discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, multimodal analysis, narrative analysis, ethnographic analysis, and corpus analysis. Fourth, important research themes were extracted and classified based on four dimensions of the genre framework of social media studies. They were the participation nature and technology affordances of social media in the dimension of compositional level, the researched topics of education, (language) policy and politics in the dimension of thematic orientations, the researched discursive practices of (im)politeness, humor, indexicality and multilingualism in the dimension of stylistic traits, and the researched communicative functions of constructing identity, communicating (language) ideology, and expressing attitude in the pragmatic dimension. Moreover, linguistic studies on social media tended to be characterized by cross-disciplinary and mixed-method approaches.
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This article examines the emerging language practice in post‐communist Mongolia that we call ‘new Monglish’ – complex linguistic processes in which English may be deeply absorbed and integrated into the Mongolian language. The original forms of English have transformed as the Mongolian social media users manipulate English to function in the space of relocalisation – the linguistic process which is re‐adapted to the local context to yield new local meanings. This English relocalisation process has adjusted to Mongolian alphabetical and grammatical systems and is yielding new meanings understandable only to the speakers of Mongolian. English has been integrated into the Cyrillic and transliterated Roman Mongolian scripts, full Mongolian sentences, and the Mongolian grammatical, phonetic, lexical, semantic, and syntactic systems. Such relocalisation of English makes it a part of the local language rather than a separate system.
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Memes as online graphic semiotic resources have developed into a globalized genre and a cultural form. The vernacularization of this global cultural form on Chinese social media is Biaoqing (literally, ‘facial expression’). Biaoqing is a phenomenon and a genre engendered by the development of information technology and growing accessibility to the internet. The most prominent features of Biaoqing on Chinese social media (cute, mischievous, decadent, dirty, violent) are spawned by and therefore reflect the structure of society. The ludic nature of Biaoqing enables them to serve as resources for new forms of communication, potential of reshaping existing social norms, the landscape of online culture, and culture and society at large. The results of this contribution constitute an invitation for a reimagination of the role of graphic semiotic signs and digital infrastructures in society, and a rethinking of theories for sociolinguistic research in a digital era.
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