Netnography is ethnographic research adapted to field studies on the Internet. I have been doing this type of research for over two years now in the Mediencommunity 2.0 project and I did not know the name for it! Again it was the serendipity of the social media that helped me discover the netnography research methodology. Originally developed by Robert Kozinets, netnography seems to have been used especially in online marketing research. Netnography as ethnographic research in the online environment has focused on online communities for providing consumer insight.
However, it is a very broad research programme, encompassing a myriad of qualitative and quantitative methods of ethnographic research, which can be also adjusted and applied to the socio-pedagogical context of learning and collaboration in online communities. One of the recent netnographic studies for example focuses on studying “cyber cultures“.
What I like about the netnographic approach is that it takes a holistic view on online communities, focuses on the study of cultures emerging on the Internet, is flexibly adaptable to research interests and employs multiple methods for triangulation.
Kozintes, V. Robert (2009): Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online. Sage Publications.