An activist in the field: Social media, ethnography, and community

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the undertheorized intersection of ethnography and social media use by researchers by drawing upon my ethnographic research in Camden, New Jersey, on community activism and my social media presence in the same community. I argue that blogging and social media are intersecting methodologically with techniques such as keeping field notes that document observation. In doing so, social media holds great potential to further the values of standpoint theory. Active blogging and social media presence by academics also increase the transparency inherent in ethnography by providing those involved with informed choices about how to engage with such research. Finally, scholars who are digitally active in their field of study have the potential to broaden the impact of their own work, not only influencing the field after the conclusion of research but becoming a part of the local tapestry and impacting current policy and local perceptions. I argue that for the ethnographer, social media both facilitates and makes visible better qualitative data collection that acknowledges the iterative nature of knowledge development, while buttressing the ability of researchers to better engage and advocate in spaces most meaningful to local communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-413
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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