Blogs as elusive ethnographic texts: Methodological and ethical challenges in qualitative online research

Liza C. Kurtz, Sarah Trainer, Melissa Beresford, Amber Wutich, Alexandra Slade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Burgeoning online environments offer completely new opportunities for ethnographic and other forms of qualitative research. Yet there are no clear standards for how we study online texts from an ethnographic perspective. In this article, we identify barriers to the application of traditional qualitative methods online, using the example of a systematic thematic analysis of weightloss blogs. These barriers include the influence of the technology structuring online content, the fluid nature of online texts such as blogs, and the highly connected and public nature of online identities, which may span multiple social media platforms. We discuss some potential approaches to addressing these challenges as preliminary steps toward developing a tool kit suited to ethical, high-quality online modes of ethnographic research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • Blogs
  • Ethics
  • Ethnography
  • Obesity
  • Online
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Text
  • Text analysis
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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