Starting from the observation «Web-mediated research [...] is already transforming the way in which researchers practice traditional research methods transposed on the Web» (Amaturo, E., and Punziano, G., 2016:35-36), with this contribution we intend to retrace the main differences that substantiate the strands of virtual methods and digital methods. We recover the vison of Hine (2000), about the virtual methods. He affirms that the classic techniques of social research can be transposed on the web and theorizes that the web can be interpreted as an object of study. This is how the survey becomes web survey or the interview becomes web-interview or, again, the participant observation becomes netnographic practice. To this vision, that keeps the object of study separate from the methodological practice, we intend to contrast a vision, linked to digital methods, in which the object of study and the methodological practice come to merge into an integrated whole, so as to coin the motto follow the medium as a cognitive and methodological imperative together. This is Roger’s vision (2009), for which classical techniques cannot be of help in their only transposition, but it is necessary to hybridize the techniques with the means (the Net) to find the methodological key that allows to produce a deeper, dynamic and truly fitted knowledge on the digital environment. And here, the classic techniques, with which there were directly produce data (survey, interview, observation), leave room for techniques that make use of the data already existing on the net, the natural metrics inherent in digital platforms and the information that indirectly cover the spectrum knowledge that moves the interest of the social researcher in the digital age. To formalize these differences of approach and highlight limits and advantages in the use of the two perspectives, examples of research related to the study of tourism (Mkono, Markwell, 2014) will be examined. In particular, the attention will be focused on a netnographic study (following the approach of Kozinets, 2010 for whom netnography suggest immediately an approach adapted from the authentic and traditional ethnography technics to the virtual communities studies in the idea of a «Social aggregation that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on […] public discussion long enough, with sufficient human feeling to forms webs of personal relationships in cyberspace», p. 8) and one calibrated on the digital ethnography approach (following, this time, the approach of Murthy, 2008, for whom digital ethnography suggest a fully digital approach, sometimes covered, but at all linked to the use of already existing information treated with the help of other specific techniques, such as, content or network analysis). Then, the methodological reflection will space for a broader reflection linked to ontological and epistemological questions upstream of the separation of the two presented approaches.

Virtual Methods and Digital Methods: Examples of Netnography and Digital Ethnography for a Comparison between Methods for Analyzing the Digital Scenario in Tourism Studies

Gabriella Punziano;Padricelli;Barbara Saracino
2020

Abstract

Starting from the observation «Web-mediated research [...] is already transforming the way in which researchers practice traditional research methods transposed on the Web» (Amaturo, E., and Punziano, G., 2016:35-36), with this contribution we intend to retrace the main differences that substantiate the strands of virtual methods and digital methods. We recover the vison of Hine (2000), about the virtual methods. He affirms that the classic techniques of social research can be transposed on the web and theorizes that the web can be interpreted as an object of study. This is how the survey becomes web survey or the interview becomes web-interview or, again, the participant observation becomes netnographic practice. To this vision, that keeps the object of study separate from the methodological practice, we intend to contrast a vision, linked to digital methods, in which the object of study and the methodological practice come to merge into an integrated whole, so as to coin the motto follow the medium as a cognitive and methodological imperative together. This is Roger’s vision (2009), for which classical techniques cannot be of help in their only transposition, but it is necessary to hybridize the techniques with the means (the Net) to find the methodological key that allows to produce a deeper, dynamic and truly fitted knowledge on the digital environment. And here, the classic techniques, with which there were directly produce data (survey, interview, observation), leave room for techniques that make use of the data already existing on the net, the natural metrics inherent in digital platforms and the information that indirectly cover the spectrum knowledge that moves the interest of the social researcher in the digital age. To formalize these differences of approach and highlight limits and advantages in the use of the two perspectives, examples of research related to the study of tourism (Mkono, Markwell, 2014) will be examined. In particular, the attention will be focused on a netnographic study (following the approach of Kozinets, 2010 for whom netnography suggest immediately an approach adapted from the authentic and traditional ethnography technics to the virtual communities studies in the idea of a «Social aggregation that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on […] public discussion long enough, with sufficient human feeling to forms webs of personal relationships in cyberspace», p. 8) and one calibrated on the digital ethnography approach (following, this time, the approach of Murthy, 2008, for whom digital ethnography suggest a fully digital approach, sometimes covered, but at all linked to the use of already existing information treated with the help of other specific techniques, such as, content or network analysis). Then, the methodological reflection will space for a broader reflection linked to ontological and epistemological questions upstream of the separation of the two presented approaches.
978-960-598-319-2
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