Digital ethnography and transformations: tracking cultural expressions in the contemporary world [W]
Christian Ritter (Tallinn University)
Juan del Nido (University of Manchester)
Aula 30
Monday 15 April, 16:30-18:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This workshop invites ethnographic researchers who seek to understand the role of digital media industries in cultural transformations. Attendees will discuss methodologies for researching digital media platforms and reflect on the materialities of digital culture.

Long abstract:

This participatory workshop will bring together folklorists, ethnologists, and anthropologists sharing the aim to understand the role of digital media industries in cultural transformations. Digital media platforms emerged as the dominant infrastructural and economic model of the internet. Blogs, memes, and apps became recurring forms of cultural expression. Committed to a materialistic approach to digital media platforms, the workshop provides insights into the embodiment of media technologies in the digital age. Digital content, context, and technology are material in the sense that they carry the symbolic meanings individuals exchange over the internet. Not only data centers, computer screens, processors, and keyboards are elements of this material world, but also the affordances of interfaces facilitating communication through digital media platforms.

Inviting ethnographers conducting fieldwork on the current transformations of cultural phenomena, the workshop will present research strategies for unravelling the dynamics of accelerated change in the contemporary world (Eriksen, 2016). The ubiquitous implementation of media technologies in everyday life requires a rethinking of ethnographic data collection and analysis. In the first part of the workshop, attendees will become familiar with recent approaches in digital ethnography (Pink et al., 2017), and the walkthrough method (Light et al., 2016), while discussing research ethics and strategies for integrating internet research techniques with traditional ethnographic fieldwork. In the second part, participants will form small groups to reflect on experimental forms of ethnography and develop methodologies for studying cultural transformations. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own devices and use the local Wi-Fi (20 participants max).