Posted on October 12, 2017October 19, 2017 by HelenMOOC – week 2 reading – Engaging Communities 3- Proposing the Ethnographic Research Project
4 Replies to “MOOC – week 2 reading – Engaging Communities”
Great to see this mindmap – a really useful way of diagramming key ideas to consider when proposing this kind of project.
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of ethnography is defining the ‘site’ – something that seems to be particularly less straightforward where digital networks are concerned. ‘Framing an important question’ is also about deciding what constitutes a space or community through which such a question can be posed.
Interesting questions might be, to what extent does the researcher propose the ‘site’, or bring the site into being through the research, as opposed to undertaking research ‘in’ an already acknowledged ‘site’?
Thanks for your comments Jeremy. And yes, the concept of site is a really interesting one, particularly within digital spaces. As Jen’s conversation touches upon, one of the key challenges in digital ethnography is that we’re not operating in geographically bounded spaces. As you note, how do we define what ‘the space’ is? Do we follow a person and define our site as the spaces they roam in and around? Or do we as researchers define a particular space/a site?
I really like you mindmap, it really helped me to understand clearly the process for developing an ethnographic project. Wish I had done something similar this week as I have been looking at discourse analysis and it is still a big mess in my head, 4pm on Sunday evening!
I was particularly struck by the comment you reinforced – the importance of having a connection to the research site even if this is very minimal. Do you think there are dangers the other way where the researcher has too close a connection to the research site?
Thanks for your comments. I really like using mindmaps as they help me to distil my readings and ideas into something manageable. They also become a useful tool for assignments, enabling me to quickly find the quotes/references I need!
With regard to being too close: absolutely. Having undertaken a very small observation this week, I’ve begun to think about how I’d feel observing colleagues/peers (currently, I am thinking of doing this as part of my research). One of the criticisms of the ethnographic method is that the researcher risks a positivity bias because of increased attachment to the culture and people (s)he is studying. I think that this risk can only be intensified if one has prior, close affiliations. What’s been very useful is how this small-scale exercise has made me (already) think carefully about how I might approach observations within my own study.
I hope that – since 4pm – you’ve managed to achieve some clarity!