Not Alone in the Field: Distance Collaboration via the Internet in a Focused Ethnography

Bonnie K. Lee, David Gregory


Ethnography as method remains orthodox in its application. It is largely replicated through the lone field ethnographer model. In challenging this fieldwork model, the authors describe distance collaboration via the Internet linking two researchers across space and time in the fieldwork process: one in the field, the other home based. Using a reflexive, retrospective analysis of e-mail correspondence generated during the fieldwork experience, they explicate key factors in their successful collaborative effort. In addition, interchanges conducive to “thickening” the ethnographic inquiry are highlighted. The collaborative process, facilitated through the Internet, lent psychological strength to the field researcher and added to research quality, timeliness, and trustworthiness in this focused ethnography. Cyber-technology invites exploration of new approaches and resultant challenges in conducting ethnographic fieldwork.

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