Ethnographic Fieldwork and Digital Culture – A Beginner’s Guide
By Piia Varis
Routledge
February 2015

Abstract

Ethnography, as a holistic approach to societies and cultures, can make a substantial contribution to the study of present-day online environments and our digital culture(s). However, the process of doing ethnography online is far from straight-forward.

This book aims to give a realistic account of what ethnographic research on digital culture is like, describing the whole trajectory of an ethnographic project from planning to finishing stages, including the potential ethical and practical challenges that are specific to this line of research. The discussion in the book will be supported – in the spirit of ethnographic research – by a collection of empirical cases, both illustrating the theoretical and methodological points made, as well as offering a panorama of different forms of analyses and types of data. Accordingly, questions related to data collection will be addressed and tips given as to how to manage the data collected and keep it organised. The book will specifically focus on studying different phenomena on social media and social network sites (e.g. YouTube, Facebook).

Useful for both the beginner researcher and the more experienced one, Ethnographic Fieldwork and Digital Culture gives students and scholars in media studies an accessible guide to the intricacies of conducting ethnographic research online.

Author

Piia Varis is a researcher at the Department of Culture Studies, Tilburg University (the Netherlands), where she also coordinates the research project Transformations of the Public Sphere. She teaches courses on digital culture and ethnographic online research at Tilburg University and University of Luxembourg. She is also a member of the Max Planck Sociolinguistic Diversity Working Group. She received her PhD (English, 2009) from the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), and has since published on e.g. forms of language use and identity online (Varis & Wang 2011; Varis, Wang & Du 2010; Blommaert & Varis 2011; Dong et al. 2012). She is co-editor of Tilburg Papers in Culture Studies (with Jan Blommaert, Massimiliano Spotti & Sanna Lehtonen).