Digital Research Diary 182 MC

Week 1 - ETHNOGRAPGHY

This week’s reading was on Ethnography and from it I have learnt about what ethnography is along with its historical context. "Ethnography is one of the many approaches that can be found within social research today." - Ethnography is used in various ways, so it's meaning itself varies. There are overlaps of other labels "such as 'qualitative inquiry', 'fieldwork', 'interpretive method' and 'case study'."

When it comes to researching culture through ethnography the way in which we conduct and record research to learn and study about as methods has changed and developed as well as being altered over the years. The term ethnology is shaped through a range of theoretical influences which cannot just be pinned down to one method. Hammersley and Atkinson have interpreted it best as; “the researcher participating, overtly or covertly, in people’s daily lives…watching what happens, listening to what is said, and/or asking questions through informal and formal interviews, collecting documents and artefacts – in fact, gathering whatever data are available to throw light on the issues that are the emerging focus of inquiry” (Hammersley and Atkinson 2007:3). This is showing how ethnography is a method of systematic research of culture.

One thing I learnt from the reading “What is Ethnography” is that ethnography is quite an open approach. It collects data to pursue answers as well as it producing answers to test alongside further research. To start off with understanding this was a bit challenging however once reading into it more the more it began to become clear and make sense with an insight into how strategies to collect data may be worked out and continuously changed when researching. From the reading when finding out that because of the uncertainty of creating data in unnatural setting instead of artificial then became clear to me why the data that is collected is used to against each other.

Week 2 - REASEARCHING MEDIA DISCOURSE

This week’s reading was based around Discourse analysis which is the term given to a range of approaches to the study of texts. I discovered the understanding of discourse analysis difficult to wrap my head around however once I continued to read on regarding media discourse it became a lot clearer.

I did find it enjoy reading it for the reason that I liked the fact that not all the attention is on the words said but all on how they are used in a particular place depending on whom they are speaking or writing to. This led to the expertise of the interpretive content which I discovered very compelling in particular when analysing the instance of the text “my car has broken down” it become interesting to see the numerous interpretations that have been taken from just that one piece of talk. The interpretation took into consideration the functions are defined above of whom they have been stated to and in which the text became stated.

What I discovered was that the idea of researching in media discourse involved asking different questions to find out and then be able to gain an understanding of the text on its own instead of just asking questions to get responses that may be got from its research.

The development of questions is taking as direct response to the text or the talk given to them which I found very interesting to understand.

Week 3 - SPACE

This week’s reading focused on Castells theory on the information society. This text is one that he described space as being split into 'space of flows' and 'space of places'. Additionally how the internet time-shares and isn't bound to a particular space. Castells explores gendered space looking specifically at women within the workplace.

In this text I gained an understanding of Soja's third space theory:

First space: material relatives that structure space such as chairs, walls etc. the country side is all constructed- fences etc.

Second space: Representations and discourses (Micheal foocault) surrounding space that shape our perceptions of certain spaces. - the discourses surrounding something are the questions surrounding it- the way we talk about it, how we talk about it. Eg. the british museum: architecture, beautiful, website, promo material, discussed, tour guides etc.

Third space: both the material realities and discourses jointly contributing to the construction of space in both material and imaginary terms. Your house, home, areas. Eg. people who come from the same area, same type of house, same age, etc may still have vastly different experiences of the same space.

Although the reading was difficult to get my head around I still found some of the topics mentioned quite interesting to learn about as it is every day. Saukko notes that; “[Castell] Pinpoints the ways in which the global economic and political networks empower the some people while disempowering others” but is contradictory as “[he] ends up consolidating the steep inequalities and hostilities between people he writes about” (Saukko 2003:161). It is clear here that even just trying to define space is challenging, as is applying the concept of space – space is so every day and it also shapes how we experience the world around us

Week 4 -REASEARCHING PEOPLE

This week’s reading is by Hermanowicz “The Great Interview: 25 Strategies for studying people in bed”. I found this reading rather interesting and enjoyed for the reason that I liked how the type of method for people being interviewed had been metaphorically attached to studying people in bed which is different. Some of the key strategies I was able to gain a full understanding as I thought they were different making it exciting and interesting to learn about. From this reading I was able to get a strong understanding as to what makes a “good” and “great” which was helpful and would make it easier for me when applying it to myself when researching and interviewing people.

By having this specific research method as a sexual metaphor advocated the most essential objectives of great interviewing being able to signify intimacy through the relationship between the interviewee to almost form a “romantic-like dialogue” (Hermanowicz 2002:482) this is continuous and allows answers to flow. If the lock-step approach is brought into the interview it is then challenging for interviewer to get the best results as the interviewee will find it difficult to open up. This then limits the success of getting the best answers of the interview. Holstein and Gubriem (1995) believe that a success of an interview is more on the interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee rather than how much knowledge is exceeded.

Hermanowicz’s theory of interviews and focus groups is seen as metaphorically being a ‘one-night stand’ by this he means that the interview is similar and can be seen as going on a date with someone. This is because it may be the first time you are meeting and you want to impress and get along with them as well as getting them to feel comfortable around you and opening up to you which makes the best results.

Week 5 - RESEARCHING THE VISUAL

This week’s reading was on “Making photographs as part of a research project”. I found this reading really helpful as well as interesting to read. It was easily laid out and explained everything clear while still linking to the theory. It also provided clear and developed understandings of visual methods which then made it interesting as I was reading for the reason that you then realise how visuals can actually be fundamental within research. Visuals have a massive involvement when it comes to sensory research. After the lecture had a few weeks back on ethnographical research with researching culture and interview base research on researching people it then became clearer for me to understand as they all link and can be combined into three types of visual methods used when doing research that involves visuals.

There are two methods which is used which is called photo elicitation and photo essay. Photo elicitation is where people who are contributing are asked to take photographs which are then discussed in the interview. The photo essay method is where a range of photos are taken which are then put together with text to convey a social situation or problem.

The fact that it takes into consideration what individuals would consider the power of a photo to be is what I liked and was curious when discovered it. Holliday infers that photographs make their audience bear witness to that life (2004:61) I particularly liked this as I found it fascinating to be able to think about how simple photographs are able to capture and record specific moments.

week 6 - RESEARCHING THE DIGITAL

This week’s reading was “Ethnography in a Digital World”. Digital ethnography is an approach that centres around practising ethnography in a very contemporary world. Researchers are enabled to look at as well as considering the way we live and use digital material because of the changes and adaptations around us.

From the reading I liked the fact that ethnography as a research method can be applied in almost all of the tasks especially when it comes to researching the digital. What really caught my interest was finding out that we basically take part in digital ethnography without even knowing that we are. This is because we are in mediated contact with other people whilst at the same time also being in direct contact for example through social media posting pictures and sharing into groups and inviting people into chats and discussions.

There was a method that was actually interesting to read about which was understanding that there is more than one way to engage with the digital. For me I believe that digital technologies have a strong impact on both the researcher and he participant. This is because digital technologies are used within everyday life alongside that if you apply it within ethnograpghy research it then means that the participants who are involved in with the digital technologies then have to be involved for the reason that it would then be easier for it to be use as a fieldwork for researchers when taking part in the research.

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Angel Mubiru
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