How we interact with Media, Social Media, the Web, various applications like Facebook SnapChat, Tinder, are areas of investigation for social anthropologists today.
This kind of field research falls under the category of Ethnography of Communication. One of my favorite anthropologists, Clifford Geertz is the father of this field in a very broad sense however Dell Hymes is the champion of this form of sociolinguistics in particular. At the heart of this field is the notion that Culture is expressed through Language and Language is a system of Cultural Behaviors concerned with what individuals know about appropriate patterns of language use in their community.
Start by identifying the SPEECH COMMUNITY (where ever you see the word Speech you can insert the term Communicative , for example the Communicative Community) on whom we are focussing our study.
We identify the SPEECH EVENT, the activity or aspect of activities
We also identify the SPEECH SITUATION, the venue or the context for the speech event.
So , for example, a conversation at a party breaks down as
the Communicative Event = conversation
the Communicative Situation = the party
Or for our study of the Digital it may be a segment of an online “game” a segment of a video game, an individual’s facebook posts and comments, someone’s tweets and the comments,
so the communicative event= post and comment
communicative situation = facebook page
Next for our Communicative COMMUNITY we identify their Communicative repetoire – this means the communicative resources at the individuals’ disposal ie, the language styles and variations available to them. So if there is more than one language used, if there is a dialect used, if there are symbols, abbreviations, slang, vocabulary or symbols specific to the platform being studied, identify all of these.
And finally we identify the Domain of Use, This is the particulars of the context.
Each Communicative event is made up of components that can be summarized through the acronym S.P.E.A.K.I.N.G. these are the content and context of the event.
You should complete this list for your fieldwork study with many details
S – SETTING – time, place, physical aspects of the setting, for example the arrangement of the furniture, the characteristics of the room. the nature of the site the arrangement of the encounters, etc.
P – PARTICIPANT IDENTITY – the age, sex, status, and the relationship of the participants
E – END – In this context the end means the purpose or reason for the speech event it also refers to the individual’s goals for the speech event. So here you would give the general purpose and then each individual’s purpose as stated by the individual and or as implied . If it is implied you should explain why .
A – ACT SEQUENCE – how speech acts are organized and topics addressed the norm of interaction in this venue
K – KEY – this is the tone or manner of what is said or written be specific give details and explain why you are identifying the tone and manner in a specific way
I – INSTRUMENTALITIES – or linguistic code, dialect, variety, channel spoken or written
N – NORM – the standard socio-cultural rules of interaction and interpretation.
G – GENRE – the type of event, for example, a lecture, a poem, a letter, an email, a text, a post and so on.
These features are interrelated and some may be more important than others in a particular event. But you should be able to identify each.
THere are two types of communicative ethnographic studies first those that prioritize a descriptive analysis have a general aim of discerning, identifying and explaining, which communicative acts or codes are important to different groups or individuals. These studies will focus on:
- Discerning what types of meanings groups apply to different communicative events
- Discerning how group members learn these codes that are important to the group
For these studies the researcher may gather information through introspection but even better is for the researcher to conduct informal interviews of others and make observations. You are required to conduct this type of research.
You are required to make observations and include a brief interview.
You complete fieldwork assignment will be at least 3 pages long and include all the details mentioned above, You should include a final paragraph that demonstrates some analysis of your data and questions and thoughts raised by your participant observation and interview.
A second type of study is to do a cross cultural comparison. This requires a great deal of data collection from numerous communities and the researcher familiarizes him/herself with all of this data and then embarks on a comparative analysis of the various communities and the types of communicative events.
You will not do this kind of study
ps: I choose to make this assignment about Tinder.