Week 7 Lifestream Summary

Last week I was desperately short of time and I’m still catching up with some of the secondary readings and videos from the Community Cultures block, as well as trying to find some time to engage with my fellow student’s end of block artefacts.

The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

My main take-out from last week was definitely an appreciation for how much can be gained from observing an online community from within and the similarities between this and participant observation in the the ‘real world’ where the “researcher engaged in participant observation tries to learn what life is like for an ‘insider’ while remaining, inevitably, an ‘outsider’.” (Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide).

I also spent some time thinking about my work role and the Learning Community I manage, how much I’m the instigator of the ‘cultural norms’ (Kozinets, R.V. 2010) that exist within its discussion forums, how many of these ‘norms’ I’ve created for my own convenience and how much of this is simply an attempt to lead by example.

I was relieved to receive some positive feedback from Jeremy on my ethnography write up, as I was concerned that some of it was wide of the mark in terms of the way it should be presented.   Many description of ethnography call for ‘rich’ or ‘thick’ narrative; telling the story from arrival and first contact to becoming embedded in the community’s culture.  With so little community to comment on this was always going to be a difficult task.  However, I think the finished artefact ticks many of the boxes in this description of ‘How to do ethnography ‘Nursing Research Using Ethnography: Qualitative Designs and Methods in Nursing’

“An ethnographic report includes clear and thick description of research methodology, including of people who participated in the study and the experiences and processes observed during the study.” […] “The researchers prejudices and biases are also highlighted.”


Mack, N. et al (2005) Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide, Family Health International

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online.

De Chesnay, M (2015), Nursing Research Using Ethnography: Qualitative Designs and Methods in Nursing, Chapter 5, Springer Publishing Company, LLC

One thought on “Week 7 Lifestream Summary”

  1. Good to see some appropriate and useful literature referenced here Nigel. I think you’re right to highlight and reflect upon the (often difficult and nuanced) aspects of ethnography, including the dilemmas of ‘insidership’ , and we’ve only really scratched the surface with the block 2 task. The Research Methods course, later in the programme, will be a good opportunity to open up these issues again.

    Week 7 ends up being rather busy, and I think many other have also focused on commenting on the micro-ethnographies – not a bad way to round up a block on community cultures!

    It might be useful to continue some of your thinking about the observation of community as we enter block 3 and begin to uncover some of the algorithms at work on the web. While the researcher has ‘prejudices and biases’ (De Chesnay 2015) as you suggest, we might find that there are other ‘agencies’ having a say in what we are able to see.

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