BCM240, SemC

Collaborative Ethnography (+/-)


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According to Lassiter (2005), Collaborative Ethnography refers to “literally working together, especially on intellectual effort”. There are multiple authors in the project writing about their experiences based on their ethnographic observation.

Yes, there are a lot of reasons for Collaborative Media Ethnography to be successful, but I also think there are high chances for them to experience difficulties.

I think Ethnographic texts based on building collaborative relationships between the Ethnographer and the Interlocutors will be more precise in studies because through interaction with both parties, more information can be retrieved as more ideas or even suggestions can be obtained when comparing with one-way ethnography where the ethnographer ask and the interlocutors discuss according to the direction of the pre-set questions. A study can be tackled at multi-facets if more collaborators at different positions or situations are possible. 

Ethnographers need to ensure that they respect the ethical values of conducting their study – especially towards sensitive issues. Otherwise, the biased views would result in a slightly altered idea and representation of the data. Collaborative ethnography moves collaboration from its “taken-for-granted” background and positions it on center stage.

In fact, last week I was involved in my very first collaborative ethnography project, which involved the study of the experiences and memories of television use in previous generations. This was a collaborative project because all the students enrolled in this subject were required to conduct similar interviews with people on their experiences of having a television. This exercise gave me the opportunity to interview my dad and have an interesting discussion about how the introduction of the television impacted his childhood and family household when he was in Pakistan as an 10-year old boy. The great aspect about this exercise was that I could let my dad reign the conversation and share special stories which shaped his experience of the television. Unlike quantitative research which would only provide black and white numerical analysis, this exercise not only enabled me to understand that the television had a significant impact in my father’s childhood, but it also helped me to understand how and why the television had such an impact.

Although using collaborative ethnography in studies can output a more objective and reliable result, but having more collaboration means involving more participants not at the same fields. This can produce more voices, may lower efficiency, and exert hardship in co-ordination. Which is perhaps why researchers prefer other research methods.


What are your thoughts on potentials and challenges of a Collaborative Media Ethnography?

Signing off,
Khan Sultana Nazish


Lassiter. L.E. (2005). Defining a Collaborative Ethnography. The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography. Retrieved from http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html


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