The Field Behind the Screen: Using Netnography For Marketing Research in Online Communities

Robert V. Kozinets, , Jan 03, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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So here's an interesting question I got in my email: is netnography a real thing? I have to confess that I don't know, as it's totally new to me. So what is netnography? Harrison Hayes writes, "In Netnography, online observations and interactions are valued as a cultural reflection that yields deep human understanding. Like in Ethnography, Netnography is naturalistic, immersive, descriptive, intuitive, adaptable, and focused on context." Robert Kozinets makes clear its relation to consumer research. and cites people like Sherry Turkle. There are two key aspects to netnography: first, the use of the internet to facilitate ethnographic research, and second, the student of net-specific cultures, such as online games and communities. Kozinet's The Field Behind the Screen describes the foundation of netnographics. Se also his more recent article in MIT Technology Review. For more, Academia lists three dozen papers on the subject. So yes, I would say not only that it's real, but that it's worth following.

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