Full course description
During this course, students will be trained in a qualitative research method: virtual ethnography. Tutorials, lectures, and individual meetings will support students in understanding main aspects of virtual ethnography. They will learn how to conduct a virtual ethnography themselves and they will experience what kind of ethical and methodological issues might arise when choosing this approach. On the one hand, virtual ethnography requires students to investigate virtual environments, digital technologies and user practices. On the other hand, they need to use digital media as their research tools. This twofold challenge will also be addressed as part of the course. In order to connect this method to a field relevant to European Studies, students will investigate issues relevant to the Digital Agenda for Europe, a Europe 2020 initiative. A key objective of the “Virtual Ethnography” skills training is to provide a setting in which students experience that 1) doing research does not imply taking methodology from the shelves, and 2) that methods do not speak for themselves. The development of a research strategy involves interpreting, moulding, extending, combining or even transforming existing methods and tools. This is true for well-established research methodologies, but it is especially evident in the case of a new research methodology. This skills training is therefore organised around such a new research approach, i.e. virtual ethnography. The aim of the skills training is to further develop the basic research skills of students and their understanding of social science research methodology. To that end, critical reflection on their experiences in designing and doing virtual ethnography is an integral part of the assignment.
At the end of the course students: • Are familiar with the research method of virtual ethnography • Are able to apply a set of qualitative research methods; • Have improved their skills in research design; • Have a thorough understanding of the criteria for filed site selection; • Have improved their skills in planning research; • Are able to use ethnographic observation techniques; • Are able to collect detailed and relevant data; • Are able to execute a detailed data analysis; • Are able to work in teams; • Are able to make use of ICT in research.
* Gatson S. (2011): "The Methods, Ethics, and Politics of Representation in Online Ethnography". In: N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 513-527), London: Sage.
* Hine, C. (2000): Virtual ethnography. London: Sage.
* Pink, S. et al. (2015): Digital ethnography: Principles and practices, Los Angeles: Sage.
* Roginsky, S. (2014): Social network sites: an innovative form of political communication? A socio-technical approach to media innovation. The Journal of Media Innovations, 2, 97-125. (Available at: https://www.journals.uio.no/index.php/TJMI/article/view/842)