The Potential of Digital Storytelling as an Ethnographic Research Technique in Social Sciences

Hatice Şule Oğuz


By using ethnographic research techniques, we can ask questions in order to understand some issues in the social sciences such as experience, the unique, the ordinary, daily life, emotions etc. However, it is possible to query the proficiency of current ethnographic techniques to design dialogic research and to convey the experiences of the ‘subjects’ of the field research. Techniques such as in-depth interviews, informal interviews and even the focus group depend on the dichotomy of the researcher who asks questions and the subject who responds to them. However, designing dialogic field research requires refusing those dichotomies, which can be considered to be inherited from a positivist understanding of science. In this article I discuss the potential of any digital storytelling workshop as an ethnographic research technique, with regard to three issues that seem problematic in current ethnographic techniques: integrated research processes; power and hierarchy relationships; and conveying the voice of subjects . The discussion of this article results from two academic experiences: One of them is my ethnographic field research experience for my doctoral dissertation; 1 the other is the digital storytelling workshop entitled When I was in the field: Digital Stories from Young Academic Women . 2 First, I discuss the weaknesses of current ethnographic research techniques and, second, I focus on how digital storytelling workshops can help to reduce these weaknesses. Finally, in conclusion, I touch on the discussions – carried out in the workshop mentioned above – regarding the opportunities and difficulties of using the digital stories and the workshop process as one of the ethnographic research techniques.

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