Pink, Sarah, Horst, Heather, Postill, John, Hjorth, Larissa, Lewis, Tania and Tacchi, Jo. Digital ethnography: principles and practice. London: Sage Publications, 2016. xiv, 202 p. ISBN 978-1-4739-0238-1. £26.99.

Most of the researchers applying qualitative methods are acquainted with ethnography. Moreover, working in information science and information behaviour field or communication and media inevitably introduces you to digital ethnography. There are also previously published books and textbooks introducing digital ethnography (see: Underberg and Zorn, 2013; or Dicks et al., 2005), not to speak of chapters in books on qualitative or modern research methods.

This particular book brings together the expertise of renowned researchers and writers on ethnographic research methods from one institution, namely, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Australia. Most probably proximity of the authors has contributed to the fruitful communication among them and helped producing a fresh and interesting textbook bringing together different approaches to ethnography into a coherent whole.

The first chapter introduces a reader to the concept of ‘digital ethnography’ and a variety of aspects that different authors emphasize in defining it in a range of disciplines. The conceptualisation of ‘digital’ is equally important in this part as that of ‘ethnography’. Here the authors also suggest the principles of digital ethnography: multiplicity (different ways to engage with the digital); non-digital-centric-ness; openness; reflexivity; and unorthodox ways of communication. Here the authors also explain the structure of their book that allows them to avoid limitations of disciplines, in which digital ethnography is used.

Thus the following seven chapters concentrate on researching human experiences (what people feel) (two), practices (what they do) (three), things (the objects as parts of human lives) (four), relationships (intimate social environments) (five), social worlds (or groups of human beings) (six), localities (physically shared contexts) (seven), and events (coming together in public contexts) (eight) (pp. 14—15).

The chapters build around the same topics, though can vary in actual composition of sub-chapters. Each of them will include the concept, its formation and development, and how ‘digital’ affects the understanding of the concept, explaining of the implications of ‘digital’ on research of it. Each chapter also concentrates on particularities and methods of carrying out specific research as well as reflecting each category in the light of digital ethnography.

The most interesting and probably most useful part of each chapter is the examples of research projects carried out and presented here with relevant details and illustrations. Each chapter provides a summary highlighting the most important and characteristic features of the presented research from all over the world.

The book is well edited, supplied by professionally produced index and exhaustive reference list.

The immediate audience of students and young researchers can benefit from it not only by finding out how to employ methods for digital ethnographic research, but also using it as an inspiration for formulating research problems. It will also attract teachers and lectures of research methodology and senior researchers guiding the work of doctoral students.


Dicks, B., Mason, B., Coffey, A. and Atkinson, P. (2005). Qualitative research and hypermedia: ethnography for the digital age. London: Sage Publications.

Underberg, N.M. and Zorn E. (2013). Digital ethnography: anthropology, narrative and new media. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Elena Maceviciute
Swedish School of Library and Information Science
University of Borås
September, 2016