Ambiguity, Oscillation and Disorder: Online Ethnography and the Making of Culture

Jon Marshall


Online life is usually held to present particular problems for ethnography as it is hidden and ambiguous, and boundaries are not clear. However, ethnography and online daily life are similar procedures in which people go about constructing ‘culture’ to make sense of others and interact with a degree of predictability. Ethnographers can learn about culture and society by learning how people themselves go about understanding and making those processes. We further, do not have to expect that the reality we describe will be completely ordered, even though the simplifications of constructing ‘culture’ might make this seem inevitable. Disorder can be socially important.

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