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Examining-Social-Resistance-and-Online-Offline-Relationships1

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  • 1. Ethnography, the Internet, and Youth Culture: Strategies for Examining Social Resistance and"Online-Offline" RelationshipsAuthor(s): Brian WilsonSource: Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de lducation, Vol. 29, No. 1, ThePopular Media, Education, and Resistance/ Les mass-mdia populaires, lducation et larsistance (2006), pp. 307-328Published by: Canadian Society for the Study of EducationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20054158Accessed: 14/06/2010 18:35Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=csse.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Society for the Study of Education is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Canadian Journal of Education / Revue canadienne de lducation.http://www.jstor.org

2. Ethnography, the Internet, and Youth Culture: Strategies for Examining Social Resistance and "Online-Offline" RelationshipsBrian WilsonTheof traditional(offlineand face-to-face)andvirtual ethnographic integrationmethodscan aid researchersinterestedin developingunderstandings of relationshipsbetweenonlineand offlineculturallife, and examining the diffuse andsometimescharacterof resistance.In constructingthis argument,I haveusedglobalyouth fromstudiesonactivismand the rave subculture. These studiesalso insights youth informedmycentral theoretical suggestion:that an approachto researchunderscored a to everyday and the power structures framing theseby sensitivityexperiencescan (still) be a powerfulguidefor understandingflows and circuits ofexperiencesresistancein Internet-influenced cultures. socialraveKey words:globalization, qualitative research,movements, culture,virtual ethnographydem?thodes traditionnelles(horsetenLint?grationethnographiques ligne ou recourantTIC peut aux aider les chercheurs? mieux lespr?sentiel) comprendre enligne et ? ?tudier le caract?rediffus etrelationsentre la vie culturelleligne et horsde la r?sistance desLauteur fondeson surparfois plan?taire jeunes. argumentationdes observations tir?es d?tudes sur Y activismechezles jeuneset la sous portantculturetechno-rave.Ces ?tudes servent de pointde d?part ? lhypoth?se ?galement aux centraledelauteur, ? savoirquune approchede la recherche qui est sensibleaux etstructuresdu pouvoirencadrant ces exp?riencesquotidiennes exp?riences (encore)servirde guide pour comprendre les courants et circuitsdepeuvent pr?cieuxr?sistancedansles culturessous linfluence dInternet.Motscl?s:mondialisation, recherchemouvementssociaux,culture qualitative, techno-rave,virtuelleethnographieCanadian Journalof Education29,1 (2006): 307-328 3. 308 BrianWilsonVirtualandare in terms of reaction or reality cyberspacecommonly imaginedagainst,to,thereal world....In certain cases, these are as some kind ofoppositionpresented Virtual is imaginedas a nowhere-somewhere alternativeto theUtopianproject.Realitydangerousconditionsof contemporarysocialreality....The mythology of cyberspaceis overits sociology.that it is time to re-locate I havevirtual culture in thepreferred arguedreal world (the real worldthat virtualculturalists, seducedby their own metaphors,pronounce dead or dying).Throughthe developmentof new technologies,we are, indeed,more and moreopen to experiences of de-realisationand de-localisation. But we continue to haveandlocalisedexistences.Wemust consider ourstateof physical suspensionbetweenthese conditions. (Robins,1996, pp. 16, 26)In the yearssince Robins (1996)critique,researchershave made importantstrides to better understandlinks betweenonline and offlineculturallife. Scholars like Burkhalter(1999), Ebo (1998) Harcourt (1999),and Stubbs (1999) have examinedhow race/ethnicity,class, and genderrelatedidentitiesare experiencedoffline and online.Otherresearchershave considered, for example, how youth subculturallife is a continuousvirtual-realexperience (Bennett, 2004; Wilson& Atkinson, 2005). Stillothershaveexamined online and offline addiction/recoverysupportgroup conventions(Pleace, Burrows, Loader, Muncer, & Nettleton,2000).Researchers are also consideringhow to best understandtheexperiencesof those who navigateacross online and offline spaces. Inthis context, Hine (2000), Markham (1998), Miller and Slater(2000), Mannand Stewart(2002, 2003), Kendall (1999), and others haveemphasizedthe importanceof an ethnographicapproachto Internet research,andoffered importantinsights into the use of (and relationships/differencesbetween) computer mediated communication (CMC) and face to face(FTF) methodsin interviewingand focus groups. EthnographerswhostudyInternet-relatedtopics struggle to develop and applynovelapproachesto their research, while remaining sensitive to still-usefulelements of conventionaltechniquesfor qualitative inquiry. Markham (1998) called thisthe "theof conducting a non-traditional paradoxethnographyin a non-traditional nonspace, withtraditional sensibilities" (p. 62).Thereremains muchto explorein these areas giventhe variousrelationshipsbetween online and offline qualitative methodologies.Forexample, the Internetis a space where research subjects are recruitedforoffline interviews, documents producedbyculture members areaccessed foranalysis, and experientialethnographicexplorations 4. Ethnography,theInternet, and YouthCulture 309throughculturalspacesand onlineenvironments take place.The area ofresearch thatspecifically considersrelationshipsbetweenonlineandoffline ethnographic methods remains especiallyrichfor developmentbecause there is arelative scarcity of work thatincludes detailedreflections on ways that online and offline ethnographic techniques canbe integratedto aid research focused on cultural groups and especiallyon cultural flows - a topic of particular interest for those whostudy theglobalizationof culture. The reasonthat this is important for thoseworking in education is that understandingthe disseminationof culture is a wayof understanding the dissemination of a dominantform of- cultural- andknowledgefor youngpeople knowledgethe sets ofcultural knowledge that acquire and possess people informtheir interpretations of the world aroundthem (includingtheir interpretationsof forms of knowledgethey are offered in formal educationcontexts). The goal of this article is to contribute to existing literature aroundthese topics by offering methodological reflectionsfrom my experiences an ethnographic aconductingstudy of online and offline cultural life inyouthsubculture; describing and outliningthe rationalefor themethodologyfor a recently designed studyof the onlineand offlinecultural lives of membersof youth-driven social movementgroups; andultimately a set of suggestionsfor examiningsocialresistance in offeringa - anglobalage age where(youth) culture circulates globallyand locally, and where collectiveaction is increasingly transnational. Theargument that underlies this articleis that the integration ofethnographic methods, both traditional (offlineand face-to-face)andvirtual, can be helpfulin developingrich and comprehensiveunderstandingsof relationshipsbetween online and offlinecultural life,and for examiningthe diffusecharacter of youthcultureand resistance.Thisresearchis particularly pertinentfor thoseinterested in the waysthat young people interact with and through Internet technology in andout of educational settings,the waysthat online and offline cultural livesof youth transcend educational settings, and for thoseconcerned withthe ways that knowledge of social issues is sometimestranslatedintosocial action. In makingthis argument,I acknowledge that a combined onlineofflineapproach is not always preferable to exclusivelyonlineor 5. 310 BrianWilsonexclusivelyoffline studiescultures ofInternet and experiences.Thechoice of methods is largely dependenton the goal of the research and strands of experience that the researcher is interestedin studying (Eichhorn,2001). As Hine (2000, p. 59) observes, even studies that include research conducted both online and offline should not be viewedas holistic, given that all ethnographic accountsare selectiveand partial.However, for research concerned withtracingconnections/relationshipsbetweenonlineforms of socialorganizationand activism, and offline interactions and action, a multi-siteand multi-method approach is sensible- not withoutand problems- as Iand desirable although challengesintend to show.ETHNOGRAPHY: THEORY, METHOD, AND RATIONALIZING ANONLINE AND OFFLINE APPROACHEthnographic Methodsand the Boundaries of Ethnographic Researchisaterm, someAlthoughethnographynotoriouslyambiguousconsensus occurs aroundtheidea that ethnographyincludes somecombinationof participant and non-participant observation,informal and document- and thatand semi-structuredinterviews,analysis theprocess of writingup research findings and (re)presenting life worldsis integrallyrelated to the act of doing ethnography(Prus, 1996; Tedlock,2000). Although oralinteractions have traditionallybeen privileged"aspart of the romantic legacy of ethnography,

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