Anthropology is best known for its qualitative, in-depth approach to understanding society and culture, especially participant-observation. Miller’s team primarily relied on participant-observation, supplemented with survey questions that broaden the context for people’s use of social media. We describe this approach, using both quantitative and qualitative data, as mixed methods. In your own projects, as I’ve suggested before in class, I’ve been pushing for mixed methods, where you can combine SNA (to find out how, what) with in-depth interviews (to find out why).
Let’s look at some of Miller et.al.’s findings from the survey results and think though how you can do your own project.
This result popped into my mind from our discussion last Monday. I took a quick look on Miller’s project site to see if I could find the actual survey questions, but didn’t find them. (As an aside, the Pew Research Center site publishes both full survey questions and datasets.) How would you study this question of the connection between social media and consumer purchasing?
Another issue that we can think about, based on our reading of boyd, is how much we use social media to perform identity. One way that can be examined is by the photos that we post on social media. In fact, the rise of Instagram (especially for younger users) seems to suggest that the performative aspect of social media is key.