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An archive of data September 30, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Dissertation, Ethnography, Methodology, PhD, PhD Data.

I am working on the methodology chapter for my dissertation at the moment. Here, I am trying to describe all of my data material, which is a rather tricky affair. As you probably know, I have been using various ethnographic approaches in my PhD project. My engagement and ‘zone of identification’ within the field of youth and online social networking in Denmark is quite strong as I have been entangled in the field since 2004 (both as a researcher, a public speaker, a blogger and as “an expert” in the media).

Therefore, I am trying to incorporate the idea of having an ‘archive of data’. The idea comes from Tim Rapley’s book “Doing Conversation, Discourse and Document Analysis“. But where Rapley presents two categories of data, researcher-generated and already existing, I am trying to add a third one: The kind of data that are generated by my own research results.

In this way, my ‘archive of data’ consists of three different types of data material:

  • Data generated by me (such as interviews, open-ended questionnaires, ethnographic observations
    and field rapports)
  • Already existing data (such as newspaper articles about the subject, public debate and discourses etc.)
  • Data generated on the basic of my previous research (such as comments on my blog, reactions on my public talks and articles, newspaper articles with me as a source etc.).

At the moment I am working on building up and describing this archive. One of my main challenges is being able to handle this massive amount of data and to analyse it righteously. But hopefully this division will help me analyse and reflect on my own role as a researcher within the field I am studying.

Thoughts on virtual ethnography field notes June 19, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Ethnography, Social networking sites, Virtual Ethnography.
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Last week I just started writing field notes for my virtual ethnographical investigation of several Danish social networking sites. (I am doing participant observation – not only ‘lurking’). I found myself restricted in some way. There was something missing from what I wanted to report on basis of my online observations and experiences. Then I realized that I was missing all of my other observations and experiences with online social networking. Things that do not only come from a virtual ethnographical investigation of specific sites. Things such as my lectures on youngsters and Arto, my own internet usage, informal conversations with youngsters, parents, teachers and so on. Also, the fact that I have already conducted an extensive virtual ethnography once before effects my experiences during the new investigation.

Therefore I decided to include those perspectives in my field notes making them notes from my whole range of experiences rather than just the virtual ones. My supervisor, Pirkko Raudaskoski, pointed out that I was actually doing small field analyses instead of just writing field notes. In this connection she recommended that I look into Situational Analysis from Adele Clarke. (more…)

Doing ethnography is central May 21, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Ethnography, Research.
1 comment so far

I have been meaning to write something about the PlaceMe workshop I attended in Stockholm about data collection and transcribing multimodal and mediated interactions. The workshop was lead by Professor Lorenza Mondada who has been working with video data for more than 20 years. One of her key points during the lectures was that doing ethnography is essential in relation to video recordings. One must always do fieldwork for a period of time before doing the actual video recording. This will not only establish trust with the participants, but also make your data better since it will help you identity the central and relevant activities within the field.

This message is very much in line with another workshop I attended last Monday on interdisciplinary discourse studies at Center for Discourse Studies with Professor Srikant Sarangi as key note speaker. During his talk Sarangi pointed to the fact that combining ethnography and discourse studies is central in order to understand professionals’ practice. One must not underestimate the value of a long term informal ethnography in order to understand the “native knowledge” that exists in a particular setting.

I think that these points about ethnography are central to almost all humanistic research – especially, when you are trying to really understand social practice. Therefore these points are also relevant to my PhD project on understanding youngsters and online social networking and ethnography is definitely something that I (still) will be working with – both online and offline 🙂