In social science research, Netnography has become a widely accepted research method. It has been used to tackle a wide variety of topics from culture to identity, social relationships and civic empowerment. Netnography can be broadly defined as a qualitative research approach that adapts the traditional ethnographic techniques to the study of the ―net‖, which is the online communities, practices and cultures formed through computer-mediated communications. Both Ethnography and Netnography are naturalistic and unobtrusive approaches, interested in studying social practices in their everyday context (Kozinets, 2010). They are both multi-method, methodologically flexible and adaptive, not confining themselves to following specific procedures, but rather remaining open to issues arising from the field (Varis, 2014). However, Netnography differs from Ethnography under some crucial points. Entering the online culture diverges from face-to-face entrée in terms of accessibility and research design. From a data collection perspective, Netnography is far less time consuming; however, it requires a new set of skills due to the specificities of computer-mediated communication and its dramatically increased field site accessibility, which requires choices about field sites and decisions about types of data to gather and analyse. Moreover, it is far less intrusive than traditional Ethnography as it allows for researcher invisibility: the cyberspace makes it possible for researchers to be unseen from people observed. This allows to document the explicit language of informants without the risk of obtrusiveness and disturbance. This paper presents the methodological specificities of Netnography focusing on its context of application, the definition of the method, the research design: from the objectives and research questions‘ setting, to sites‘ selection and cultural entrée, from the type of data to be collected, to the way to classify, analyse and represent them. The paper will also discuss some examples of netnographic studies in social sciences.

Doing Social Research on Online Communities: The Benefits of Netnography

Felice Addeo
;
Angela Delli Paoli;
2019

Abstract

In social science research, Netnography has become a widely accepted research method. It has been used to tackle a wide variety of topics from culture to identity, social relationships and civic empowerment. Netnography can be broadly defined as a qualitative research approach that adapts the traditional ethnographic techniques to the study of the ―net‖, which is the online communities, practices and cultures formed through computer-mediated communications. Both Ethnography and Netnography are naturalistic and unobtrusive approaches, interested in studying social practices in their everyday context (Kozinets, 2010). They are both multi-method, methodologically flexible and adaptive, not confining themselves to following specific procedures, but rather remaining open to issues arising from the field (Varis, 2014). However, Netnography differs from Ethnography under some crucial points. Entering the online culture diverges from face-to-face entrée in terms of accessibility and research design. From a data collection perspective, Netnography is far less time consuming; however, it requires a new set of skills due to the specificities of computer-mediated communication and its dramatically increased field site accessibility, which requires choices about field sites and decisions about types of data to gather and analyse. Moreover, it is far less intrusive than traditional Ethnography as it allows for researcher invisibility: the cyberspace makes it possible for researchers to be unseen from people observed. This allows to document the explicit language of informants without the risk of obtrusiveness and disturbance. This paper presents the methodological specificities of Netnography focusing on its context of application, the definition of the method, the research design: from the objectives and research questions‘ setting, to sites‘ selection and cultural entrée, from the type of data to be collected, to the way to classify, analyse and represent them. The paper will also discuss some examples of netnographic studies in social sciences.
978-960-598-244-7
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4723608
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