Digital Ethnography and Media Practices

Elisenda Ardévol and Edgar Gómez-Cruz


This chapter deals with ethnographic methodologies used when studying digital media, social contexts, and cultural practices. The chapter starts with an introduction to ethnography and its challenges when going digital. It then provides an overview of the different approaches to digital ethnography depending on the object of study: (1) the ethnography of online communities, virtual worlds, and social media sites; (2) the connective ethnography proposal through online and offline field settings; and (3) the ethnography of everyday life and the issue of audiences and creative practices in digital media. Finally, we discuss methodological issues relating to how to conduct online ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation, interviews, as well as digital tools for registering, analyzing, presenting data, and some ethical considerations.


Since the emergence of computer-mediated communication (CMC), and especially since the spread of Internet use and the World Wide Web boom, scholars and institutions have been interested in studying the social processes that accompany the development of these digital communicative and informational technologies (Silver & Massanari, 2006; Wellman, 2004). A growing body of work consists of methodological and epistemological reflections on how to study such phenomena. From many different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives, ethnographic ...

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