Online Ethnography & Netnography


  • online research method that adapts ethnographic methods to the study of the communities and cultures created through computer mediated social interaction
  • online fieldwork that adapts ethnographic methodology
  • individual researchers are left to specifiy their own adaptations
  • observes the interactions between individuals who are co-located
  • study of settings where interactions are technologically mediated, not face-to-face
  • methodology – offline particpant observation  – ethnographers should observe or participate in offline interactions of community members if they meet face to face, bringing together their online and offline identities
  • limitation – ethnographers require



  • online ethnography conducted in a specific manner
  • it is similar to ethnography in the following ways
    • it is naturalistic – study online social interaction by participating within and observing it
    • it is immersive – it involves the researcher as the key element in data collection and creation
    • it is descriptive – it seeks rich contextual portrayals of the lived experience of online social life
    • it uses multi-methods – interviews, semiotic visual analysis, data science, content analysis, social network analysis, the uses of big data analytic tools and techniques
    • it is adaptable – can be used to study many types of online sites and technology-related communications and interactions
  • active search for a cultural understanding of interactive online communications and information
  • Research Process:
    1. Research Planning
    2. Entrée
    3. Data Collection
    4. Interpretation
    5. Ensuring ethical standards
    6. Research Representation



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