Advertisement

“Remember that if you choose to include information in your public profile … that information will also become public”: Methods and Ethics for Online, Socio-Sexual Fieldwork

  • Andrew DJ ShieldEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Scholars who conduct new research via and about socio-sexual platforms like Grindr have a wealth of information at their fingertips, but also many ethical dilemmas. The first half of the chapter presents tips and considerations for scholars who gather quantitative and qualitative data—such as about users’ responses to drop-down menus, or trends in self-presentation—via covert participant observation. The second half of the chapter explores the method of interviewee recruitment via socio-sexual platforms and encourages scholars to consider the effects of announcing themselves in an online field. Ethnographers must also reflect on how their own subject positions affect the recruitment and interview processes.

Keywords

Methods Ethics Online ethnography Participant observation Interviews 

Bibliography

  1. Al-Ali, Nadje. Secularism, Gender, and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women’s Movement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  2. Blackwell, Courtney, Jeremy Birnholtz, and Charles Abbott. “Seeing and Being Seen: Co-Situation and Impression Formation Using Grindr, a Location-Aware Gay Dating App.” New Media & Society 17 (2015): 1117–1136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. boyd, danah. “Why Youth <3 Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” In Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, edited by David Buckingham. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  4. Brodeur, Michael Andor, “How a Writer’s Reckless Sexual Tourism Put Olympians at Risk.” Boston Globe, 12 August 2016. http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2016/08/12/how-writer-reckless-sexual-tourism-put-olympians-risk/Wa48PZ7OmSsYvs6zNnFirI/story.html.
  5. Brodkin, Karen. How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  6. Burrell, Earl, Heather Pines, Edward Robbie, Leonardo Coleman, Ryan Murphy, Kirsten Hess, Pamina Gorbach. “Use of the Location-Based Social Networking Application GRINDR as a Recruitment Tool in Rectal Microbicide Development Research.” AIDS and Behavior 16, no. 7 (2012): 1816–1820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.Google Scholar
  8. Chan, Lik Sam. “How Sociocultural Context Matters in Self-Presentation: A Comparison of U.S. and Chinese Profiles on Jack’d, a Mobile Dating App for Men Who Have Sex With Men.” International Journal of Communication 10 (2016): 6040–6059.Google Scholar
  9. Duguay, Stefanie. “Three Flawed Assumptions the Daily Beast Made About Dating Apps.” Social Media Collective Research Blog, 16 August 2016. https://socialmediacollective.org/2016/08/16/three-assumptions-the-daily-beast-made-about-dating-apps/.
  10. Dyer, Richard. White. New York: Routledge, 1997.Google Scholar
  11. Finger, Bob. “Straight Daily Beast Reporter Fascinated By Men Who Fuck Men.” Jezebel, 11 August 2016, https://jezebel.com/straight-daily-beast-reporter-fascinated-by-men-who-fuc-1785146830.
  12. Gagné, Mathew. “Queer Beirut Online: The Participation of Men in Gayromeo.com.” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 8, no. 3 (2012): 113–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grindr. “Grindr Terms and Conditions of Service.” Terms of Service. Effective Date: 30 March 2017, last accessed Fall 2017 via https://www.grindr.com/terms-of-service.
  14. Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “The Practice of Feminist In-Depth Interviewing.” In Feminist Research Practice, edited by Sharlene Hesse-Biber and P. Leavy, 111–148. London: Sage, 2007.Google Scholar
  15. Hine, Christine. Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage, 2000.Google Scholar
  16. Jørgensen, Marianne W., and Louise J. Phillips. Discourse Analysis as Theory and Method. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2002.Google Scholar
  17. Katrin Tiidenberg, “Research Ethics, Vulnerability, and Trust on the Internet.” Second International Handbook of Internet Research, edited by J. Hunsinger et al. Dordrecht: Springer, 2018.Google Scholar
  18. Kozinets, Robert. Netnography: Doing Ethnographic Research Online. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2009.Google Scholar
  19. Kozinets, Robert. Netnography: Redefined. Los Angeles: Sage, 2015.Google Scholar
  20. Kroløkke, Charlotte, and Anne Scott Sørensen. Gender Communication Theories & Analyses, from Silence to Performance. Thousand Oaks, Sage: 2005.Google Scholar
  21. Kvale, Steinar. Doing Interviews. London: Sage, 2008.Google Scholar
  22. Lange, Patricia G. “Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Networking on YouTube.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1 (2007): 361–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Letherby, Gayle. “Dangerous Liaisons: Auto/Biography in Research and Research Writing.” In Danger in the Field: Ethics and Risk in Social Research, edited by Geraldine Lee-Treweek and Stephanie Linkogle. London: Routledge, 2000.Google Scholar
  24. Light, Ben, Gordon Fletcher, and Alison Adam. “Gay Men, Gaydar and the Commodification of Difference.” Information Technology and People 21, no. 3 (2008): 300–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Markham, Annette N. “Fieldwork in Social Media: What Would Malinowski Do?” Qualitative Communication Research 2, no. 4 (2013): 434–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Markham, Annette N. “How Can Qualitative Researchers Produce Work That Is Meaningful Across Time, Space, and Culture?” In Internet Inquiry: Conversations About Method, edited by Annette N. Markham and Nancy K. Baym, 131–155. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2009.Google Scholar
  27. Markham, Annette, and Elizabeth Buchanan, “Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research: Recommendations from the AOIR Ethics Working Committee.” Paper approved by the AOIR Ethics Committee, 2012. http://www.aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf.
  28. Markham, Annette, and Elizabeth Buchanan. “Ethical Concerns in Internet Research.” In The International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd ed. Elsevier, 2015.Google Scholar
  29. Miller, Daniel, and Don Slater. The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  30. Mowlabocus, Sharif. Gaydar Culture: Gay Men, Technology and Embodiment. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010.Google Scholar
  31. Mulinari, Paula. “Racism as Intimacy—Looking, Questioning and Touching in the Service Encounter.” Social Identities 2, no. 5 (2017): 600–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parisi, Lorenza, and Francesca Comunello. “Exploring Networked Interactions Through the Lens of Location-Based Dating Services: The Case of Italian Grindr Users.” In LGBTQs, Media, and Culture in Europe, edited by Alexander Dhoest, Lukasz Szulc, and Bart Eeckhout, 227–243. London: Routledge, 2017.Google Scholar
  33. Raun, Tobias. “Out Online: Trans Self-Representation and Community Building on YouTube.” PhD diss., Roskilde University, 2012.Google Scholar
  34. Shield, Andrew DJ. Immigrants in the Sexual Revolution: Perceptions and Participation in Northwest Europe. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.Google Scholar
  35. Stern, Mark Joseph. “This Daily Beast Stunt Is Sleazy, Dangerous, and Wildly Unethical.” Slate, 11 August 2016. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/08/11/the_daily_beast_s_olympics_grindr_stunt_is_dangerous_and_unethical.html.
  36. Sultana, Farhana. “Reflexivity, Positionality and Participatory Ethics: Negotiating Fieldwork Dilemmas in International Research.” ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 6, no. 3 (March 2015): 374–385.Google Scholar
  37. Sundén, Jenny. “Desires at Play: On Closeness and Epistemological Uncertainty.” Games and Culture 7, no. 2 (2012): 164–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wittel, Andreas. “Ethnography on the Move: From Field to Net to Internet.” Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung [Forum: Qualitative Social Research] 1, no. 1 (2000): Article 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations