Wild interdisciplinarity: ethnography and computer science
International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Taylor & Francis
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Goulden, M., Greiffenhagen, C., Crowcroft, J., McAuley, D., Mortier, R., Radenkovic, M., & Sathiaseelan, A. (2017). Wild interdisciplinarity: ethnography and computer science. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20 (2), 137-150. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2016.1152022
Drawing on the experiences of a novel collaborative project between sociologists and computer scientists, this paper identifies a set of challenges for fieldwork that are generated by this wild interdisciplinarity. Public Access Wi-Fi Service (PAWS) was a project funded by an 'in-the-wild' research programme, involving the study of digital technologies within a marginalised community, with the goal of addressing digital exclusion. We argue that similar forms of research, in which social scientists are involved in the deployment of experimental technologies within real world settings, are becoming increasingly prevalent. The fieldwork for the project was highly problematic, with the result that few users of the system were successfully enrolled. We analyse why this was the case, identifying three sets of issues which emerge in the juxtaposition of interdisciplinary collaboration and wild setting. We conclude with a set of recommendations for projects involving technologists and social scientists.
This research was supported by a research grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K012703/1) and by Horizon Digital Economy Research, RCUK grant (EP/G065802/1).
EPSRC (via University of Nottingham) (EP/M02315X/1)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2016.1152022
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/254607
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/