Monday, 11 January 2010

Must Read #2

Kozinets, R (2010): Netnography. Doing Ethnographic Research Online

The importance of this book is, IMHO, comparable to the must read #1 by Hindman (2009): Perhaps not incredibly innovative but filling in a crucial gap regarding online research.

Kozinets seems to be the pioneer in discussing ethnography done online, and his brand new book is a clear, simple, step-by-step manual that systematises the core characteristics and particularities of researching internet use/consumer behaviour (K comes from marketing research). Thank you!

In one way, the book is a basic, general manual for empirical research:

What is ethnography -- a strand of anthropology, mix of methodologies to understand a culture or a social setting?
How to choose your method online -- whether a survey, journal, interview, social network analysis?
What are the steps of an netnography project -- Definitions of questions and social setting/topic to be researched; Community identification and selection; Community participant-observation, gathering of data; Analysis & interpretation; Writing up results, theoretical and/or policy implications?
What are the particularities of netnography vis-a-vis ethnography -- alteration of communication by the particular media used; anonymity; access & participatory ethos of online communities; 'autmatic' archiving of communication?
What are the ethical considerations and procedures -- are online communities public or private spaces; how to get consent for research (inform about the reseach, ; how to avoid harm for participants and how to portray data (degrees of concealment)?
What are the quality parameters of netnography -- degrees of coherence, rigour, literacy, groundedness, innovation, resonance, verisimilitude, reflexivity, praxis, intermix?

By being so basic, systematic and practical, the book demystifies online ethnography. Its wonderful core message is, really, that a lot of social science/ethnography data is mediated. Thus, online is just one -- albeit a very important, if not currently the most important -- domain, among others, with its particularities. But those special characteristics can and should be researched in a manner similar to any ethnographic project -- with ethical, reflective and contextual considerations.


  1. Dear Minna,

    SAGE have made this book free to read online until the 20th January. Just visit

    Kind regards,