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Digital ethnography and experiences from the Global South 
Yueran Tian (Bielefeld University)
Jingjing Fu (Queen Mary University of London)
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Tim Jordan (University College London)
Monika Palmberger (University of Vienna)
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Short Abstract:

This panel welcomes ethnographic and methodological contributions concerning digitalization and datafication. The aim is to learn from people’s engagements with rising technologies in the Global South.

Long Abstract:

Data-intensive logics and practices have become highly intertwined with many aspects of people's everyday lives, spanning healthcare, communication, digital activism, and more. In the Global South, the rapid expansion of telecommunication infrastructure, combined with the widespread availability of smartphones and AI tools, has significantly reshaped how people engage with public services, work, consumption and many more. Mobile apps for instance have expedited the implementation of welfare policies, extended access of payment solutions and financial services to previously marginalized communities. However, as more individuals embrace digital platforms, corporations and governments also employ algorithms to control, selectively include, or exclude individuals from this digital ecosystem. This raises concerns and sparks debates regarding equality, inclusion, and privacy.

The study of people's experiences thus is crucial as responses to these changes are highly contextual and dependent on individuals' material and affective conditions. Additionally, observing and uncovering ambiguities embedded in digitally mediated everyday life poses methodological challenges.

The point of departure for our panel is that datafication remains a highly interactive and relational process. Drawing insights from experiences in the Global South, we aim to reexamine and further explore:

The roles of digital technologies

How people interact with digitally mediated society

The evolving strategies and approaches that (digital) ethnographers employ in their "fieldwork"

The opportunities for interdisciplinary dialogues among scholars from sociology, information science and technology, communication, and media studies.

Accepted papers: