Some thoughts on digital research (in Consumer Culture)

I recently gave a talk (well, a webinar) on Digital Research Methods in Consumer Culture to Brazilian researchers, students, and some marketing practitioners. I couldn't say no to an invitation by the wonderful group of researchers behind CCB (Cultura de Consumo Brasil). I've been doing digital research through my entire career, and co-organized (with Eric Arnould and Toni Eagar) a roundtable for the CCT conference a couple of years ago to discuss digital methods. That roundtable led to a crowdsourced document of digital research solutions, and a Facebook group for scholars interested in Digital CCT Research Methods, and the group has now more than 370 members. Now this may sound like a good enough record for a short talk on he topic. Yet I couldn't help but feeling out of my comfort zone when I started to prepare my slides. 

I sat on that discomfort for a while until it dawned on me that there's a reason why that roundtable we organized was jam-packed, probably the same reason why the Facebook group has attracted so much interest, and the same reason why Roberta and Marlon invited me to talk about digital research methods to CCT folks in Brazil:
We don't talk enough about methods in our field.
We don't write enough either, but that is another issue (as Rob Kozinets, Marie-Agnes Parmentier and co-edited the Special Section "Evolving Netnography" for the Journal of Marketing Management, we reflected on the reasons why so few scholars write about the methods they use). I didn't have any template in mind for what a talk about methods should look like. Now, that is not just my webinar-prepping problem. 

If all we know about methods comes from books, chapters, and articles, methods start sounding like a prescription - a recipe to be followed. The problem of thinking about methods this way is that a lot of frustration arises when those recipes don't exactly match the ingredients we have to work with. That is why talking about methods is important. Talking with, not to other researchers about methods is a good way to start thinking about methods as a dynamic, flexible, and situated choice. As Evert Gummesson wrote about his personal choice of methodology:
It is an example and not the doctor’s orders; use it if you find it appealing or compose your own methodological symphony.
So I decided to talk about Flexible Digital Methodologies - and share some thoughts on how methods should be chosen in a situated and dynamic way. Now, I won't expand on this just yet, because Chris Ferreira and I will include a discussion of this in a chapter we're writing. But the audience at CCB seems to have appreciated the idea. And I found that thinking about methods this way opens up a whole lot of creative possibilities for designing research studies that take full advantage of one's interests, capacities, and ideas. 

Here are some interesting resources I shared during the talk, in case you want to explore. And as usual, I am keen to reading your thoughts about it!

The conference for the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) is online this year, and very affordable. There's a track/Theme called "Research Life". 

Lupton, D. (editor) (2020) Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced document)