Ethnography – Embodiment and the digital world

Researching Youth – Methods Seminar Series

The sixth session in our Researching Youth Seminar series hosted by the British Educational Research Association (BERA) special interest group for Youth Studies & Informal Education, in collaboration with the British Sociological Association (BSA)’s Youth Study Group and the Political Studies Association (PSA)’s Young People’s Politics Specialist Group.

This session is particularly for those Youth Researchers considering, or already undertaking an ethnographic approach. It will explore differing approaches to ethnography, focusing in particular on the embodied experience and the digital realm.

Ian McGimpsey & Frances Howard will explore the opportunities and constraints of ethnography as a research method alongside the conflicts that ethnographers may face in different settings. Together we celebrate ethnographers’ scope for playful, creative engagement within youth spaces which can be constrained by local social relations and programme funders. Our ethnographic evaluative research explores the positionality of researchers working in local places and the micropolitics of the research representations they construct. We argue that our presence, time and playfulness can seek to disrupt the capturing of young people as subjects and the locale as policy territory.

Moving ethnographic methodology online, Harry Dyer investigates some of the methodological issues raised by working in digital spaces with youth, and the possibilities of digital methods and methodologies. This will explore some of the methodological and ethical issues raised by digital ethnographic research during the pandemic to explore what is being amplified and silenced online when we consider young people. We will also critically explore the assumptions of voice online, drawing on the pioneering work of Black female digital researchers to unpack why digital spaces tends to amplify what Tressie Cottom calls ‘roaming autodidacts’ and how we might avoid listening to the loud voices alone in digital spaces. Finally, we will explore the volume of data online, looking at the rise of ‘big data’ and how ethnography can respond to this volume of data.

Following these short presentations, there will be space for event attendees to share questions, ideas and their own approaches to ethnography within Youth Research.

Please register here:

Free of charge for BERA, PSA and BSA members. PSA members need to input the promotional code ‘PSA2022’ at checkout.