What is Digital Ethnography?

Digital ethnography has many names: virtual ethnography, online ethnography, cyber-ethnography, or even netnography. A relatively new subfield within the social sciences, it studies the cultural and social domains of human interaction through the Internet technologies they use. This can mean studying “online” fandoms, gamer communities, and virtual worlds, but it can also mean studying how “offline” groups—such as social justice movements, ethnic diasporas, and faith communities—use Internet technologies.

As so much of our lives and practices move to Internet spaces, especially now, under social distancing quarantines, the need for rigorous scholarly engagement with the digital grows. That is why PERCS is beginning a turn toward digital ethnographic research as a sociological and anthropological tool. As part of PERCS Digital Ethnography’s inaugural year, we have offered mini-grants for online ethnographic research.

For more information on exactly how one begins the process of doing digital ethnography, you can read this piece in The Geek Anthropologist by Dr. Devin Proctor, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, or watch his video-lecture on the topic below: