Digitally Democratizing the New Ethnographic Endeavour: Getting Thicker Around the Geertz?
At the intersection of the unfolding of the seventh, eighth and ninth moments of qualitative research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2006) and the development of new forms of information and communication technologies lies a powerful possibility for the application of more democratic and authentic forms of ethnographic research and representational work. For those who embrace the emancipatory potential of the ‘new ethnographies” (Goodall, 2000) inclusivity, authenticity and decolonialist practice emerge as markers of rigour in qualitative research. Digital technologies provide a mechanism to this end by strengthening the data-collection part of the ethnographic process while at the same time opening up rich and evocative means for the presentation and distribution of research outcomes. The first section of this paper looks at the use of a number of new forms of digital technologies- specifically the mobile phone, iPod and digital camera – in ethnographic research work and explores how the forms of data made accessible by these are able to significantly enhance the 'thickness' of ethnographic description (Geertz, 1973). In the second part of this paper, we explore the major contribution new digital forms of technology potentially make to the democratizing and de-colonising of the ethnographic process. In particular, we elucidate the effect of authentic research participant engagement in the research endeavour through the use of commonplace digital tools.
Keywords: Ethnography, Qualitative Research, "Thick" Description, De-colonial Research Practice, Democratic Research, Digital Technologies, Research Participants
Dr. Andrew Hickey
Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland
Asociate Professor & Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland