Using Netnography to Research Older Adults’ Online Communities
Netnography is a form of ethnographic research adapted to include the Internet’s influence on contemporary social worlds. The netnographic approach allows us to observe: (1) How participants use online resources to communicate and create social influence, (2) with whom they communicate with using online tools and on which topics, (3) what types of information they communicate about, and (4) how online tools are used in different communities to coordinate participants’ everyday lives and meet their needs. With the pervasiveness of new communication and information technologies, the number of online communities for older adults is continuously growing. In the current chapter, I employ a narrative literature review to show the way netnography has been used to investigate older people’s online communities, namely type of netnography, step-by-step procedures, and the researcher involvement in the community and related ethical concerns. Netnography was mostly used to investigate older adults’ online communities in leisure studies and to a lesser extend in the digital technology domain. Furthermore, most of the studies employed observational netnography, in which the researcher plays the role of a “lurker”, and few concerns regarding the ethical use of online data were found. To conclude, I argue for the role of netnography in understanding adoption, use, and meanings ascribed to new communication technologies in later life.
KeywordsNetnography Types of netnographies Online communities Older people’s online communities Older people and ICT use
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