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Research seminar: Doing Media Ethnography

May 6, 2011

Dr John Postill
Doing Media Ethnography
Research seminar to the Doctoral Programme
IN3, Open University of Catalonia
Media-TIC building, nr Glories
Wednesday, 11 May 2011

In this seminar I draw from my previous research in Malaysia and ongoing research in Barcelona to explore the ethnographic study of media. I pay particular attention to the importance of carefully choosing the ethnographic research methods (e.g. participant observation, time diaries, semi-structured interviews, biographies of things) that will best suit a given research project. This is seldom easy, as the ethnographic research process is typically exploratory, open-ended and subject to sudden rethinks. Moreover, the rapid pace of technological change and growing diversification of the mediascape make it increasingly hard – if not impossible – to delimit one’s object of study around one or two discrete media. Two golden rules of ethnographic research are: “If it matters to my research participants, then it matters to me” and “Follow the locals, but remember that sometimes they may lose their way, too”. The session will start with a presentation of the key issues and this will be followed by a discussion and class exercise that connects with doctoral students’ own interests and experience. As a thought experiment, students are asked to come to the session having prepared a two-minute presentation of a media research project they would develop if this were their research area.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire permalink
    May 7, 2011 10:49 pm

    Will this seminar be available via webcast? Sounds great!

    • May 9, 2011 9:49 am

      Thanks Claire. On second thoughts, it may be actually be webcast, I’m not sure – if it is I´ll announce it here and via twitter, @johnpostill

  2. May 7, 2011 11:54 pm

    Any chance of this being available to any extent online?

    • May 9, 2011 9:40 am

      Hi lmighton, I hope to be able to post at least my presentations points, and if I find the time some quick notes on how the session went.

  3. August 31, 2011 9:27 am

    Hi John, I just discovered your blog via a MeCSSA email relating to your new book (which I will purchase). Would your deck of slides be available somewhere (say Slideshare?) Will also connect with you via email as there are parallels with my ethnographic research in Malta.

  4. August 31, 2011 1:45 pm

    Hi Alex

    Many thanks for your note. In the end I opted for an oral presentation with no slides and prepared a handout instead. I’ve put those notes here:

    Yes, do tell me more about your Malta research!



  1. Doing media ethnography: seminar notes « media/anthropology

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