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New digital ethnography reading group

July 8, 2015

By Allister Hill
PhD candidate
Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC)
RMIT University, Melbourne

Due to scheduling clashes, this month we are running the first group Thursday 9 July 2015, 12-1:30pm, Room 9.3.5A/B [RMIT city campus, Melbourne]. Moving forward they will be run on the second Wednesday of each month, starting on 12 August 2015 (12-1:30pm). See also the meeting invite.

As this is the first session we’d like you to think about some of the following. What ethnography means to you and to your research? How does your understanding of ethnography shape your practices as a researchers / how do you expect it to, if you are just starting out now? Where is the digital located, for you, in relation to ethnographic practice?

This month’s reading is (see attached, NB if the link doesn’t work you may need to right click and open link in a new window).

Horst, H., Hjorth, L., & Tacchi, J. (2012). Rethinking ethnography: An introduction. Media International Australia, 12(145), 86-93.

With regard to the reading for this week, Rethinking ethnography, perhaps one or a few of the following matters could be considered and discussed with the group:

  1. What are the ways in which the article encourages the reader to ‘rethink’ ethnography and ethnographic practice? How does this rethinking facilitate understanding the world (in particular digital lives and media) in ‘useful and insightful ways’ and more?
  2. Nightingale (2012) ties the development of media ethnography to the cultural or ‘reflexive turn’ in anthropology. What does this ‘reflective turn’ refer to? Furthermore, in what ways could this have lead to improved ethnographic practice in media and cultural studies and the expansion of media anthropology?
  3. Do you agree with Small’s (2009) differentiation between the ways that sociologists and social/cultural anthropologists have used and approached ethnographic research? What are the ways that sociologists approach ethnography, that may differ from anthropologists, if they are more inclined to encounter questions as to the validity of their research based on ‘how many’ and ‘who’ are in their study?
  4. Explore the notion of ‘being in fieldwork’ as used, with a nod to studying virtual worlds, by Boellstorff et. al (2012) and how that compares to what anthropologists may have considered ‘participant observation’ in the past.
If there are any digital ethnography readings that you would like to recommended, start thinking of them now and/or email them through and we can work towards setting up the list of readings for future reading groups.
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