PhD Course: New Ethnographic Methods for Technology Studies

On Tuesday October 27 11:00 – Thursday Oct 29 (13:00) TiP will be hosting a PhD course entitled New Ethnographic Methods for Technology Studies: Between the Field and the Desk. You can find below the details of the lecturers, readings, and how to apply.



Christopher Gad, Marisa Cohn, Rachel Douglas-Jones

Technologies in Practice  & Ethos Lab


Paul Dourish, Professor of Informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences & Velux Visting Professor at ITU,

Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Research Fellow at Department of Thematic Studies  Technology and Social Change, Linköping University

Brit Ross Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen



Deadline Extended: October 8th for submission of papers of 5-7 pages, along with a 100-200 word bio.


Tuesday October 27 12:00 – Thursday Oct 29 (13:00)


IT University of Copenhagen, Rued Langgaards Vej 7, 2300 Copenhagen

Room 3A08 (tbc)

Course description

This PhD course explores the ethnographic method. Revisiting the classical distinction between ‘field’ and ‘desk’, it asks how these constructs – field and desk – are reconfigured in an age where the world is connected in new ways. Today’s ethnographers experience fieldwork situations where concepts and matters from critical theoretical debates are already in place in the empirical field, where new technologies provide unprecedented ways of connecting, and access to the field from the desk is becoming commonplace. These changes raise questions about the character and dimensions of immersion, and an opportunity to reconsider classical themes within methodological discussions of ethnography.

This course proposes that topics central to recent discussions of the ethnographic method, such as multi-sited research, the challenges of bounding the field, the politics of research positioning, and the work and effects of contextualization techniques are still highly important. However, today’s students may find avenues in their research through which to reconsider the changing role, range and scope of the ethnographic method and the practice of these central themes. We invite essays reflecting on two or more of the listed topics that relate the readings to specific methodological and methods questions experienced in students’ own research. We furthermore welcome essays that consider the challenges of emergent practices in the field and at the desk, as well as reflections on the dawning ethic of experimentation in the arena of methods.

Students will be organized into thematic groups based on the way the course readings are addressed in papers. Each will be expected to act as a discussant for another paper, and will receive comments from a visiting or local professor.

Programme (subject to adjustment)

Day 1

11:00-11:30 welcome and presentation round.

11.30-13:00- Key-note presentation by Paul Dourish

13:00-13:45 Lunch Break

13:45-15:45 Thematic paper session 1

15:45-16:15. Walk and talk, summarizing the day.

Day 2

9:00-10:30 Thematic session 2

10:30-11:00 coffee break

11:00-12:30 Brit Ross Winthereik

12:30 –13.30 Lunch

13.30- 15:00: Thematic session 3

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:00: Group discussion – summary of lessons learned so far

18:30 Dinner in town

Day 3

9:30-11:30 Teun Zuiderent-jerak. Situated Intervention: Artful contamination of desks and fields.

11:30-12:00 Coffee break

12:00-12:30 Final conclusions, summary Christopher, Marisa, Rachel

12:30-13:00 evaluation


The course is aimed at students doing ethnographic qualitative studies of technologies, a background in ethnography, anthropology, informatics, information systems, or science and technology studies is an advantage



Amount of hours the student is expected to use on the course


Syllabus reading 21 hrs,

Essay preparation of 5-7: 30 hours.

Presentation in relation to course topics (based on feedback from course organizers) 15 hours.

Participation in the Course 16 Hours

To take part in the course, send your 5-7 page essay to Rachel Douglas-Jones by October 8th. Please title your email: New Ethnographic Methods. 

Along with your 5-7 page essay, please also submit a) 100-200 word bio (including your university department and degree program,  thesis topic area and keywords) and b) an indication of whether you would be interested in joining the PhD course dinner.

For access to the course readings while writing your essay, please email


Reading List

The field and the desk

 Positioning the ethnographer: Inside/outside of the network

  • Riles, Annelise (2000) Introduction: Inside out. In: the network inside out. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
  • Haraway, Donna (1997) ‘Modest Witness’ In: Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.Femaleman?_Meets_Oncomousetm. London: Routledge
  • Dourish, Paul & Genevieve Bell: “A role for Etnhography: Methodology and Theory” Chapter 4 in “Divining a Digital Future – Myth and Mythodology in Ubiquitous Computing”

 The problem of the field

  • Falzon, Marc- Anthony (2009) Introduction. in Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research. London: Ashgate pp 1-25.
  • Candea, Matei (2007) Arbitrary locations: in defence of the bounded field-site. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13(1):167-184
  • Fortun, Kim (2009) Scaling and Visualizing Multi-sited Ethnography. In Marc-Anthony Falzon (ed.) Multi-sited Ethnography: Theory, Praxis and Locality in Contemporary Research. London: Ashgate pp 73-87.


  • Brown, Steven D. (2012) Experiment: abstract experimentalism. In: Celia Lury & Nina Wakeford: Inventive Methods: The happening of the social. London: Routledge
  • Marres, Nortje (2012) Experiment: the experiment in living In: Celia Lury & Nina Wakeford: Inventive Methods: The happening of the social. London: Routledge

 The problem of context

  • Dilley, Roy (1999) Introduction: the problem of context. In Roy Dilley (ed.) The problem of context. New York: Berghahn Books
  • Asdal, Kristin & Ingunn Moser (2012) Experiments in Context and Contexting Science, Technology, & Human Values 37(4) 291-306

 Situated Knowledges

  • Haraway, Donna (1988) Situated knowledges. The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective: Feminist Studies 14:575-99
  • Hughes, Christina & Celia Lury (2013) Re-turning feminist methodologies: from a social to an ecological epistemology, Gender and Education [special issue: Material Feminisms: New Directions For Education] 25:6, 786-799
  • Teun Zuiderent-Jerak 2015: Introduction: “Exploring Intervention in the Social Sciences” in Situated Intervention. Sociological Experiments in Health Care, MIT Press
    • Optional conclusion: Conclusion: “Situated Intervention and the Ethics of Specificity”
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