Presentamos esta semana en el congreso de la ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association) que se celebra en Barcelona un trabajo que reúne los trabajos de todos nosotros (Elisenda Ardévol, Edgar Gómez, Begonya Enguix y un servidor, Adolfo Estalella). Reflexionamos sobre el análisis de las prácticas en la etnografía. La presentación (el jueves día 27 de noviembre por la mañana) tiene por título (provisional): Media practices and the Internet: some reflections through ethnography y la haremos en la sección Digital Culture and Communication, Os dejo el resumen más abajo:

In this paper we propose to rethink the ethnographic method applied to the social study of the new media related to Internet mediated practices (youtube, flickr, blogs). We aim to develop a proposal that goes beyond the located study of events, virtual communities or users’ groups to develop an ethnography of practices.

The first ethnographic studies on the Internet were focused on the study of virtual communities or social interaction and cultural forms in specific technological platforms. Later, the approach included the ethnographic study of the everyday life of the actors, but in general the dichotomy between online and offline was still a reference whereas the field was still considered in relation to the “virtual community” of origin. For example, some members of an online group were followed in their offline meetings. Two of the first studies that broke the division between the ethnography of online interaction and the ethnography of a physical located community or the ethnography of digital culture and the study of media reception were the pioneering work of Miller and Slater (2000) about the Trinitarian appropriations of The Internet and Hine’s (2000) study of the case of Louise Woodward through the analysis of different web pages on the subject as well as their links with the traditional media. These ethnographies break in different ways with the ideas of community and place as central for the definition of the ethnographic field in the analysis of the new media and in this sense introduce some elements that situate practices as the locus for social analysis.
Our proposal follows the path of such contributions and is inspired by the recent approaches that social sciences have developed on the study of practice (Schatzki, 1996 Knorr-Cetina, Von Savigny, 2001) adding an ethnographic turn. Following Strauss: “a field site can no longer be seen merely as a geographical location, but rather may be viewed as an intersection between people, practices and shifting terrains, both physical and virtual” (Strauss, 2000: 171-172). Such “decentering” from the conception that community and place are nodal for the ethnographic field implies two consequences, at least: a) on the one side, it allows “to follow the actors” in their everyday practices without conferring them with a priori schemes for the definition of those practices, but aiming to make sense of the practices that they devise and about which they think; b) on the other side, it introduces the need to incorporate objects to the construction of the social, bringing into consideration their materiality and not only their symbolic dimension.

From our experience in different ethnographic research projects (about bloggers’s identity, Youtube and digital photography practices) we propose a theoretical reflection about the construction of the ethnographic field through the study of the practices with and through the digital media.