We developed a teaching-led research project to empirically ground methodological reflection about digital ethnography. Drawing on Cordelois’ collective ethnographic observation approach, fifteen emerging professionals (from a private general education university and a Police Academy in Bogota) collaborated in a method seminar on digital ethnography. They worked in cross-institutional research teams, each carrying SenseCams for 3 days. Students had a dual role as both participants and observers during self-confrontation interviews. The research design enabled emerging professionals to introspect about what it is to be a member of their institution. The SenseCam provided an additional opportunity for observation as it elicited different reactions in the two institutions. The fact that SenseCams produce sequential accounts of activity as well as its situated nature made apparent the autonomy to study and solve daily issues (e.g. transport, security, commitments) by students from the university, while students in the police academy are more focused on responding to unforeseen activities (e.g. police services, unexpected requests). Finally, our research highlights the relevance of the social dimension of introspection for digital ethnography. How digital data that captures an individual perspective is negotiated in a group becomes a key methodological question.
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The development of intelligent image management systems (Lee et al. 2008) has aided many researchers in utilizing the data generated by Sensecams, however this system was not utilized in this research endeavour.
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To Economics and Social Research Council funded project “Strategic governance of Science and Technology Pathways to Security” which funded Dr. Rieken research for this paper. The authors acknowledge the support given by the Escuela de Cadetes de Policía General Francisco de Paula Santander and Universidad de los Andes, for facilitate the access to their learning environments and the whole institutional framework to develop the research.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The author was supported by the Economics and Social Research Council funded project ‘Strategic governance of Science and Technology Pathways to Security’ when conducting the research for this paper.
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Rieken, J., Garcia-Sanchez, E., Trujillo, M.P. et al. Digital Ethnography and the Social Dimension of Introspection: An Empirical Study in Two Colombian Schools. Integr. psych. behav. 49, 253–274 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-015-9299-1
- Digital ethnography