Methodological and Ethical Concerns Associated with Digital Ethnography in Domestic Environments: Participant Burden and Burdensome Technologies

  • Bjorn Nansen
  • Rowan Wilken
  • Jenny Kennedy
  • Michael Arnold
  • Martin Gibbs


This chapter reflects on methodological and ethical issues arising in a digital ethnography project conducted in domestic environments. The participatory aims of the methodological approach required participants to produce a series of videos exploring domestic digital environments. The videos were then uploaded using an ethnographic software application. Early in the project it became evident that researchers had limited control over important aspects of the technology, and that the technology itself was having disruptive effects in households. Further, although the study was designed to be engaging and playful for participants, the tasks of producing the videos was perceived by some participants as requiring onerous levels of creativity and digital media literacy. The chapter discusses these methodological and ethical issues, and how they were largely resolved.



This work was supported by the Australian Research Council [DP130101519]. The authors would like to thank the research participants for their enthusiasm, time and support. Participant permission has been granted for the use of images in this publication.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bjorn Nansen
    • 1
  • Rowan Wilken
    • 2
  • Jenny Kennedy
    • 1
  • Michael Arnold
    • 1
  • Martin Gibbs
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Swinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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