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Divining a Digital FutureMess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing$
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Paul Dourish and Genevieve Bell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015554

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015554.001.0001

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A Role for Ethnography: Methodology and Theory

A Role for Ethnography: Methodology and Theory

(p.61) 4 A Role for Ethnography: Methodology and Theory
Divining a Digital Future

Paul Dourish

Genevieve Bell

The MIT Press

This chapter seeks to reconnect the ways in which research questions (i.e., methodologies) are approached with the ways in which such questions might be framed, articulated, and addressed (i.e., theory). It explores a broader view of methodology and theory, using ethnography and its relationships to ubicomp as a starting point. The chapter argues that by relegating ethnographic knowledge to implications for technological design, ubicomp practitioners fail to capture the value of ethnographic investigations, insights, and knowledge. Yet it does function as a useful avenue to open up a larger conversation not only about how ethnography is currently prefigured in ubicomp, but also how it could be powerfully reimagined. Of particular interest is how ethnographic theory can help reposition research questions and directions without a reliance on fieldwork. The chapter thus illustrates the implications for design which might be derived from classical ethnographic material, and shows that these may not be in the form which ubicomp research normally imagines or expects.

Keywords:   methodology, theory, ethnography, ubiquitous computing, ubicomp

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