Changing ethnographic mediums: the place-based contingency of smartphones and scratchnotes
Reason for embargo
The medium by which ethnographic notes are taken within the field is changing. Increasingly researchers are turning to jotting short notes using smartphone notation apps, leaving pen and paper behind. While this has practical benefits, there is a need to recognise explicitly how the medium by which notes are taken can influence the content, style and practice of contemporaneous ethnographic note-taking. There is a place-based contingency to the acceptability of the smartphone as a research tool; phones carry different social connotations to paper notebooks, and can act to reinforce difference, making statements of privilege, power and culture. The medium by which fieldnotes are taken actively impacts the field and is capable of influencing relationships with participants and altering the power dynamic of research. The changing tools of note-taking also result in a changing visibility of the act of writing, bringing additional challenges to managing consent and ensuring the ethicality of research.
This research was conducted as part of a 3 year PhD scholarship, jointly funded by an Economic and Social Research Council studentship (grant reference ES/J500197/1) and a Cardiff University President’s Scholarship.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 49, pp. 223 - 229