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Disrupting the Field : Virtual Reality Technologies and “Multisited” Ethnographic Methods

Author:
GREEN, NICOLA
Source:
TheAmerican behavioral scientist 1999 v.43 no.3 pp. 409-421
ISSN:
0002-7642
Subject:
anthropology, computer simulation, people, uncertainty
Abstract:
This article discusses the challenges involved in constructing a field of study when the social relations in question involve multiple locations, objects, and stories about them. This article argues that the geographical, social, technical, and conceptual uncertainties presented by virtual systems problematize conventional constructions of the field and fieldwork, and require a flexible and “multisited” methodological approach. The article draws on experiences researching virtual reality technologies, and outlines the multisited ethnographic methods used in response to the methodological challenges involved. It outlines strategies of following objects, following people, and following stories to construct a flexible and multiple field of research. Such strategies are consistent with theoretical developments in feminist poststructuralism and science and technology studies that seek to deconstruct the coherence of the research process. The article argues that it is crucial to develop such methodological approaches in order to make nuanced critique of technology development, production, and consumption into the next millennium.
Agid:
6210138