Research at home

This is my master’s thesis project at the department of Science and Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. The full preliminary title is: “Research at home? Social Scientists and their understanding and use of the internet as a site of research.”

What am I doing?

My research interests are digital media and the internet in particular, design and it’s social impact, and everything that can be found at the intersections between society, art, design and activism.

I am interested in unraveling the entanglements (and also tensions) between different socio-technical spheres. I always want to understand how people from diverse backgrounds (do not) interact.

In this project, I am looking to explore the relationship between qualitative online researchers and the medium or field of their research. It came about as a result of my interest in tools and how people use them. After doing a few online research projects myself, I decided to dive deeper into qualitative digital methods.

Why am I interested in these things?

In 2012, the project work for my bachelor’s thesis in Cultural and Social Anthropology led to my first encounter with online methods – I had been trained in ethnographic methods at that point, but teaching was restricted to traditional “offline” methodology. Working with methods texts that were available back then, I was never fully convinced that young researchers like me where who those texts were written for. After all, a lot of them read like basic introductions to using the internet. But what to make of these thoughts?

Of course internet usage, for research purposes and otherwise, is changing at an incredibly fast pace. This means that a lot of what was true in regards to conceptionalizing and defining the internet and online research in 2012 is outdated now. New texts have been written, methods have been adapted.

Social scientists are now living (and working!) in a world where our digital lives and the physical world blur together. In a world where social media platforms are not just for networking, but have become a popular site of research. I am interested in how researchers are dealing with this – fairly new – reality and how they approach fieldwork in the 21st century.

You can find the project blog on my university website.