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Ethnography goes online: Towards a user-centred methodology to research interpersonal communication on the internet

Beneito-Montagut, Roser ORCID: 2011. Ethnography goes online: Towards a user-centred methodology to research interpersonal communication on the internet. Qualitative Research 11 (6) , pp. 716-735. 10.1177/1468794111413368

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Ethnographic research is increasingly concerned with how the internet operates within our everyday life. This article attempts to offer a methodological contribution of online communication and an exploration of initial empirical data generated with this methodology. The article calls for a specification of how ethnography can be applied appropriately to the study of relationships online. It departs from the real versus virtual dichotomy, offering a user-centred methodology to study interpersonal communications on the internet. It suggests the use of three main strategies to pay tribute to the characteristics of uses online: multi-situated, online and offline, and flexible and multimedia data collection methods. This approach facilitates a holistic analysis of the way in which social information and communication technologies operate within society in everyday life. It deals with the problem of defining the setting of research online and proposes an expanded ethnography. The article specifies details of this methodology for research into interpersonal communications and emotions online. It does so by drawing on empirical data generated in a study on everyday life and emotions on the internet. Epistemic questions related to this methodological approach will also be discussed. Overall, the exemplification suggests that the methodological approach proposed here is able to capture the uses and understandings of the internet.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 1468-7941
Date of Acceptance: 11 January 2011
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2022 10:12

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