In week one, Travel Instagram’s as a media niche that I am interested and have experience in. In the following week, I began to map this niche out. Last week, I began to problematise my media niche and narrowed my topic down to Travel Instagram’s and why do people follow them. In this week’s blog post, I will consider the ethical concerns of conducting an ethnographic study and begin to source the background research for my digital artefact. Although ethnography was initially challenging to understand, my research for the previous blog posts have taught me a lot.

Background Research

Anali Ambani Baruah’s AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF TRAVEL INFLUENCERS AND THE “ONLINE TOURIST GAZE” is one of the main secondary sources that will be referenced throughout my own digital artefact and has already helped shape the direction of my work. Baruah references many other ethnographic studies however none explicitly focus on Jay Alverrez the approaches and theoretical frameworks used can be applied to my own study. For example, Baruah begins defining specific Travel Instagram’s through analysing how other ethnographers have categorised it either as Photographer and Adventure Travel Influencers, Food Travel Influencers, Fashion Travel Influencers. This conversation could be included in my first audio episode for my digital artefact, where I could start to define Jay Alverrez’s account and decide what aspect will be focused on for my study.

Ethical Research

In my research, I have an ethical responsibility to accurately represent my findings and keep the identities of anyone that I observe confidential. Mertens (2014, p. 521) says that “researchers have an ethical obligation to give serious consideration to what they are giving back to members of the communities in which they work” and I agree with this completely. 

Although the majority of my research will be conducted online, there are still users who are not entirely anonymous but I can avoid any ethical issues by not directly quoting to referring to certain users but instead paraphrase their comments and draw conclusions from my observations across multiple social media platforms. Another ethical concern that I have is using incorrect terminology and discuss the subject matter carelessly. Due to the nature of the topic, I will make sure to use the appropriate language and approach the media niche with empathy and understanding. Furthermore, as an ethical researcher I will ensure I remain respectful and responsible before, during and after my research.

In the next week or so, I will be releasing a pitch video summarising my four blog posts before beginning to release episodes of my digital artefact. Stay tuned!

References:

Baruah, A.A., 2017. Travel imagery in the age of instagram: an ethnography of travel influencers and the “online tourist gaze” (Doctoral dissertation, Doctoral dissertation, Department of Anthropology and Sociology SOAS, University of London).

Mertens, D. 2014, Ethical use of qualitative data and findings, The sage handbook of qualitative data analysis, Sage, Los Angeles, pp. 510-523