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WhatsApp in Ethnographic Research: Methodological Reflections on New Edges of the Field

Staudacher, Sandra and Kaiser-Grolimund, Andrea. (2016) WhatsApp in Ethnographic Research: Methodological Reflections on New Edges of the Field. Basel Papers on Political Transformations (10 Mobilities - In and out of Africa). pp. 24-40.

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Abstract

The mobile phone and the increasing worldwide use of smartphones with applications such as the instant messenger WhatsApp are revolutionising ethnographic research. Drawing on transnational, ethnographic research in Tanzania, the USA and Oman, this paper shows that WhatsApp constitutes a valuable tool in ethnographic research in three important fields of interaction and communication: first, between researchers and informants simultaneously in different places; secondly, as a tool to exchange with field assistants; and thirdly between researchers. Building on expanding theoretical reflections on transnational networks and practices this paper adds new insights to corresponding methodological consequences. It critically reflects on the usefulness of integrating WhatsApp into ethnographic research. It argues that by incorporating such technologies we can not only keep an actor-centred focus, but also support methodologically the theoretical shift from understanding the field as a ‘location’ to grasping the field as a ‘network’ – or even a transnational social field.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Ethnologie > Medizinethnologie (Obrist )
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Fachbereich Ethnologie > Visuelle und politische Ethnologie (Förster)
UniBasel Contributors:Staudacher, Sandra and Kaiser-Grolimund, Andrea
Item Type:Article
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:University of Basel
ISSN:1664-6681
e-ISSN:1664-669X
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
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Last Modified:02 Mar 2018 10:45
Deposited On:22 Dec 2016 09:56

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