Legitimising digital anthropology through immersive cohabitation: Becoming an observing participant in a blended digital landscape

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Debate regarding how to conduct digital anthropology is currently contested, with two primary methodologies emerging: researchers who conduct projects wholly in cyber- space, and those who look at the use of digital technologies by their informants, contextualised in the offline world. This paper suggests a third way, arguing that immer- sive cohabitation is possible where online and offline fieldsites are viewed as part of a larger blended field. This paper builds on two years’ ethnographic fieldwork with Instagram to call for immersive cohabitation as a new method to be considered by digital anthropologists and ethnographers. Further to this blended approach, this paper argues for a move beyond participant observation to working as observing participants in the virtual. This dual approach restructures current anthropological methods for digital working to enhance the quality and depth of data collection whilst ensuring the continued currency of the anthropologist in a rapidly modernising and increasingly digitised world.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Early online date15 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019