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Netnography – an approach to ethnography in the digital age.

Fenton, A. and Parry, K. D., 2022. Netnography – an approach to ethnography in the digital age. In: Quan-Haase, A. and Sloan, L., eds. The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods. London: SAGE, 214-227.

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Sage Handbook of Social Media Research Chapter - Netnography researching the field behind the screen[2].pdf - Accepted Version
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Netnography is a branch of ethnography, developed specifically to study the online interactions of people through participant observation and other methods. Netnography uses Internet communications as a primary source of data. The fact that social media communities have grown so massively means that they are becoming increasingly alluring for researchers. The vast amount of online data affords a readily accessible and potentially fruitful source of data for researchers. However, the accessibility of these sources also gives rise to a number of ethical dilemmas that will be explored in the chapter. Considerations include the role of the researcher, whether online spaces should be considered public or private, and the need to anonymise sources. The chapter also discusses the link to other qualitative methods such as interviews (including online) and also social network analysis (SNA). The chapter contains practical information on how to conduct a netnography, including how to choose a field site, how and where to collect data from (such as forums, social media etc.), the storage of data, and differences in approaches. It also highlights the importance of using up to date (secondary) sources to blend with new primary data collection. Collecting large volumes of data can provide a challenging analysis task. Thematic analysis of netnography data is explored and the use of qualitative analysis software is also included and the challenges of analysing data. Finally, a netnography case study is presented. The case study illustrates how to conduct a netnography and picks up on all of the issues raised in the chapter in a practical sense.

Item Type:Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords:Netnography; Social media; ethics; Social network analysis; Qualitative; Ethnography; Research methods
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:37932
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:23 Dec 2022 10:59
Last Modified:23 Dec 2022 10:59


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