Digitally Democratizing the New Ethnographic Endeavour: Getting Thicker Around the Geertz?

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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
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , Digitally Democratizing the New Ethnographic Endeavour,


Dr. Andrew Hickey

Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland
Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia


Jon Austin

Asociate Professor & Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland
TOOWOOMBA, QLD, Australia

Jon Austin is an Associate Professor and currently Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Southern Queensland. His current academic and research interests reside broadly within the areas of cultural studies and critical pedagogy: identity & difference; postcolonial and decolonial praxis; and transformative pedagogies. He is the editor and co-author of three books (Culture & Identity 2005, Re-Presenting Education 2006, and Educating for Healthy Communities 2007) and is currently working on a book on new ethnographies jointly with Andrew Hickey. His doctoral work was in the area of whiteness and white identity.

Ref: I08P0458