The ink is, literally, just drying on the contract.
A little while ago, a senior editor at Sage publications, approached me about writing a Sage Research Methods book specifically devoted to netnography, the conduct of online anthropology. I thought it was a great idea, and enthusiastically began developing the outline for the book. That outline proposal went through a quick and careful review at Sage, resulting in some useful comments and suggestions. I incorporated them into a revised plan, and now we’ve got a signed deal.
I’m delighted to be working on this book for the esteemed Sage Research Methods series.
Here is a little overview of the book, and I’m sure I’ll be providing more information about it as I write it and we get closer to publication.
Netnography: Researching Cultures and Communities Online is going to be a methodological primer on a (relatively) new (yet established!) research technique: netnography. Netnography is a qualitative, interpretive, contextual research methodology that adapts the traditional, in-person ethnographic research techniques of anthropology to the study of the online cultures and communities formed through computer-mediated communications (CMC).
The Sage Research Methods book will thoroughly introduce, explain, and illustrate the method of netnography to interested scholars and other researchers. The book is needed because there are currently no other books that fill this void. With a history stretching back over twelve years in consumer and marketing research, netnography has been widely accepted by these constituents in this field of research. Netnography therefore differs from past qualitative Internet research techniques in that it offers, under the rubric of a single term, a rigorous set of guidelines for the conduct of online ethnographic research.
The overarching justification for the book is that netnography is an important and distinct technique and compares favorably with other research methods. The distinctive feature of netnography is that it combines the contextual strengths of ethnography with the reach and accessibility of Internet-based research techniques.
The technique has been well received within the fields of marketing and consumer research, and has begun to spread to other fields with recent publications in sociology, game studies, travel, cultural studies journals. The intention of this book is to broaden the reach of this methodology, offering and explaining it to scholars across a range of academic disciplines, as well as to continue to systematize and develop the approach.
The book will achieve its objective of introducing, explaining, and illustrating the method of netnography by offering a structure that initially overviews the history and explains the importance of online culture and community. The next parts of the book present and summarize various approaches to performing research online, and introduce and detail the method of netnography. Netnographic procedures are illustrated with a range of examples from published and ongoing research across a variety of fields, and in a variety of international contexts. The book will be written for a global audience of interested students, scholars, and researchers from any social scientific field that might include qualitative data analysis in its research.
The book concludes with a discussion of the ways netnography has already been adapted and altered, a presentation of the multifarious ways that the online space of culture and community is currently changing, and a discussion about how the method can be further adapted by individual researchers and teams to realize its full potential in this rapidly changing research environment.
In summary, this book will introduce the method of netnography, explain it and illustrate it. In so doing, it will also help to provide an organizing frame around the conduct of online research attuned to its cultural qualities. The book will provide guidelines for a rigorous application of Internet research methodology for social scientists across many disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, business and marketing.
The book is scheduled for release in late 2009.