Researching online practices

Lankshear, Colin, Leander, Kevin, and Knobel, Michele (2011) Researching online practices. In: Somekh, Bridget, and Lewin, Cathy, (eds.) Theory and Method in Social Research. Sage, London, pp. 147-154.

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Abstract

This chapter considers what is entailed in researching activities involving use of the internet from the standpoint of people engaging in social practices like blogging, online shopping, participating in online social networks, and being a fanfiction writer or music video creator. It outlines what we mean by 'practices' as a technical concept, and identifies some key implications for research design and methodology of taking a practice approach to researching social phenomena. We pay particular attention to a concept of 'connective inquiry' that disrupts the online/offline distinction and to the idea of 'affinity spaces' as a useful construct for understanding how people become proficient in certain kinds of internet-related practices. The chapter privileges attempts to gain 'insider' understandings of internet-related practices, as experienced from the perspective of the actors themselves (emic), rather than imposing observer meanings upon these practices (etic) from the outside or on the basis of generalizations presumed to hold across a range of cultural contexts. We live in a period of massive technological and institutional change, where new things to be done and new ways of doing things – increasingly on a global scale – are emerging apace, mediated to a large extent by the internet. Internet-related practices are the 'nuts and bolts' of a great deal of the culture and history being made in this conjuncture. Understanding these nuts and bolts, then, is crucial to understanding our times – locally and globally.

Item ID: 18127
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-84920-015-8
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2011 22:54
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified @ 50%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2099 Other Language, Literature and Culture > 209999 Language, Communication and Culture not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950202 Languages and Literacy @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950199 Arts and Leisure not elsewhere classified @ 40%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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