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Digital Ethnography

Key Information

Course details
Methods Option course for MSc, Hilary Term
Written submission
Reading list
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Dr William Kelly


Each week, students will develop their conceptual understanding and analysis skills via the discussion of key academic texts and through working with authentic qualitative data. Starting in week 1, students will be required to start developing and conducting their own small case study using different kinds of qualitative data and participant observation methods. This module will: 

  • provide an overview of the ethnographic tradition; 
  • explore the new opportunities and challenges the Internet and digital environments have presented for those interested in carrying out ethnography; 
  • examine the more practical aspects of how to go about an ethnographic study; 
  • discuss novel methods that are being used to analyse web-based data and how using these methods may actually be changing what ethnography originally set out to be; 
  • explore some of the ethical considerations that arise in online ethnography. 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the strengths and limitations of engaging in participant observation of digitally mediated communities 
  • Identify, gather, manage, and analyse multiple types of qualitative data to support ethnographic investigation 
  • Understand the ethical considerations unique to participatory qualitative methods