Internet-mediated Ethnography: Issues And Challenges In Social Science Research Discourse
Jang, SH and Terry, DR and Le, T, Internet-mediated Ethnography: Issues And Challenges In Social Science Research Discourse, Conducting Research in a Changing and Challenging World, Nova Science Publishers, Thao Le & Quynh Le (ed), Hauppauge, NY, pp. 173-183. ISBN 978-1-62618-651-4 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]
Turing their attention to the trend of social and cultural changes heavily influenced by the constant development of new technologies, researchers have endeavored to pave new ways in conducting ethnographic studies to cultivate social meanings embedded in Internet-mediated environments. With the expansion of different ethnographic practices in online settings, methodological operations documented in the literature are showing changes in the way researchers shape and perform ethnography. When considering the notion of ethnography, which cannot radically change, the traditional ethnographic view towards online ethnographic research is at odds with these researchers. Their attempts are seen as the inappropriateness of ethnographic studies, rather than facilitating innovative approaches to the ethnographic field.
This chapter discusses three key arguments from the plethora of debate which surrounds Internet-mediated ethnographic studies. These key arguments include: how can the research field be defined when borderless; is it ethnography when the observation of individuals and communities is not conducted in person; and how can text-based conversation be merely trusted to be rich and meaningful enough to demonstrate a new social formation?
Emphasising these issues contributes to the current discussion about developing new directions of ethnography to unfold further social aspects of online culture. From an epistemological perspective, this chapter argues that the significance of ethnographic studies is not simply defined by what ethnographical research is, but also by how it should respectively be conducted. Therefore, there is a need for further attention to continually develop approaches which enable online ethnographic researchers to act in an explicit and systematic manner to explore, with ease, the online domain and its culture.