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Ethnography and Virtual Worlds:
A Handbook of Method
Tom Boellstorff, Bonnie Nardi, Celia Pearce & T. L. Taylor
With a foreword by George E. Marcus

Book Description | Reviews
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Acknowledgments xi
Foreword, by George Marcus xiii

Chapter 1. Why This Handbook? 1
     1.1 Beginnings 1
     1.2 Why ethnographic methods and why virtual worlds? 6
     1.3 Why a handbook? 8
     1.4 An orientation to the virtual worlds we studied 9

Chapter 2. Three Brief Histories 13
     2.1 A brief history of ethnographic methods 13
     2.2 A brief history of virtual worlds 22
     2.3 A brief history of research on virtual world cultures 25
     2.4 The uses of history 27

Chapter 3. Ten Myths about Ethnography 29
     3.1 Ethnography is unscientific 30
     3.2 Ethnography is less valid than quantitative research 36
     3.3 Ethnography is simply anecdotal 40
     3.4 Ethnography is undermined by subjectivity 41
     3.5 Ethnography is merely intuitive 42
     3.6 Ethnography is writing about your personal experience 43
     3.7 Ethnographers contaminate fieldsites by their very presence 44
     3.8 Ethnography is the same as grounded theory 45
     3.9 Ethnography is the same as ethnomethodology 46
     3.10 Ethnography will become obsolete 48

Chapter 4. Research Design and Preparation 52
     4.1 Research questions: emergence, relevance, and personal interest 52
     4.2 Selecting a group or activity to study 57
     4.3 Scope of the fieldsite 59
     4.4 Attending to offline contexts 61

Chapter 5. Participant Observation in Virtual Worlds 65
     5.1 Participant observation in context 65
     5.2 Participant observation in practice 69
     5.3 Preparing the researching self 72
     5.4 Taking care in initiating relationships with informants 76
     5.5 Making mistakes 79
     5.6 Taking extensive fieldnotes 82
     5.7 Keeping data organized 85
     5.8 Participant observation and ethnographic knowledge 87
     5.9 The timing and duration of participant observation 88
     5.10 The experimenting attitude 90

Chapter 6. Interviews and Virtual Worlds Research 92
     6.1 The value of interviews in ethnographic research 92
     6.2 Effective interviewing 94
     6.3 The value of group interviews in ethnographic research 104
     6.4 Size, structure, and location for group interviews 106
     6.5 Transcription 110

Chapter 7. Other Data Collection Methods for Virtual Worlds Research 113
     7.1 Capturing chatlogs 113
     7.2 Capturing screenshots 114
     7.3 Capturing video 116
     7.4 Capturing audio 117
     7.5 Data collection in other online contexts 118
     7.6 Historical and archival research 120
     7.7 Virtual artifacts 121
     7.8 Offline interviews and participant observation 124
     7.9 Using quantitative data 126

Chapter 8. Ethics 129
     8.1 The principle of care 129
     8.2 Informed consent 131
     8.3 Mitigating institutional and legal risk 135
     8.4 Anonymity 136
     8.5 Deception 142
     8.6 Sex and intimacy 144
     8.7 Doing good and compensation 146
     8.8 Taking leave 148
     8.9 Accurate portrayal 149

Chapter 9. Human Subjects Clearance and Institutional Review Boards 151
     9.1 Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) 151
     9.2 Preparing a protocol for IRB review 153
     9.3 Working with IRBs 155
     9.4 Informed consent and anonymity 156

Chapter 10. Data Analysis 159
     10.1 Ethnographic data analysis: flexibility and emergence 159
     10.2 Preliminary reflections while in the field 160
     10.3 The role of theory in data analysis 162
     10.4 Beginning data analysis: systematize and thematize 164
     10.5 Working with participant observation data 168
     10.6 Working with individual and group interview data 170
     10.7 Working with images, video, and textual data 172
     10.8 The end of the data analysis phase: from themes to narratives
              and arguments 174
     10.9 Generalization and comparison 176

Chapter 11. Writing Up, Presenting, and Publishing Ethnographic Research 182
     11.1 The early stages of writing up: conferences, drafts, blogs 182
     11.2 Written genres 185
     11.3 Dissemination 186
     11.4 The writing process 190
     11.5 A quick trip back to the field? 192
     11.6 Tone, style, and audience 193

Chapter 12. Conclusion: Arrivals and New Departures 196

References 201
Index 223

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File created: 7/11/2014

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