Original posted on http://www.flickr.com/photos/ist4u/6096125805/

Guided Ethnography

by Tilton on January 1, 2013

During the course of writing my dissertation, I played around with a few different methods that would allow me to focus on working through the main questions and hypotheses related to the work. After reading Christine Hine’s work on Virtual Ethnography, I wanted to apply her methodology to my work. Hine’s original research dealt with online community exclusively with no direct face-to-face discussions with the group that she was studying. She simply asked questions to the online forums that were the arenas of her study. Since I had previous face-to-face discussions with my research pool, there wasn’t a need to use online questionnaires. However, it changed the makeup of the methodology I was using. It was no longer a virtual ethnography as it merged into the real world.

The research conducted during my dissertation was a triangulation study and the third method was this style of ethnography that borrowed from the structure of Hine’s previous work while at the same time allowed me to directly ask questions to my research pool related to how they used Facebook. In addition, I wanted to explore some of the decision making processes used to select what artifacts they used to represent themselves online. Dr. Andrea Baker & Dr. Eric Rothenbuhler suggested the term “guided ethnography” as a reflection of this research method I was using. I hope to present more on this research method during the new year at some of the conferences I’ll be attending and some of the papers I’ll be publishing.

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