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Doing Media Ethnography: Visual Methods and Forms of Interviewing


Admission requirements

Only students who are admitted to the master’s Joint MA pilot programme “Media & Material Culture” can take part in this course.
(Click here for admission requirements)


Media Anthropologists analyze – amongst other topics – conventions of (audio-)visual communication, the visualization of cultural concepts, and media usage as a cultural practice. In this training course we shall focus on research methods suitable for exploring these issues empirically. The emphasis will be on various interview techniques that are commonly used during fieldwork, ranging from rather informal modes of conversation (i.e., narrative interview, group discussion) to semi-structured and standardized forms (i.e., problem focused guided interviews, questionnaire). How to develop suitable questions for an interview? How to conduct an effective interview? How to make an informant lead a conversation? How to record, translate and analyze the given information? And, most importantly: in what respect are these techniques suitable for the analysis of visual materials and the objectives of media ethnography? What can be explored by means of more experimental research designs?

The format of this course is practice-oriented. Students develop interview projects on self identified themes related to visual and media anthropology. These interview projects are to be conducted in vicinity of the students’ every day life. Enquires could focus on subjects like ‘media usage among x’, ‘self-presentation in photo albums’, ‘online dating’, ‘the usage of mobile phones during public transport’, ‘the acceptance of graffiti among x’, ‘private collections’ etc.


Winter Term 2010/2011 (14/10/2010 – 03/02/2011)

Mode of instruction

Lectures and workgroups

Assessment method

Oral presentation (20 minutes) on a particular method of data collection/data analysis (with
handout), short exercises related to the interview project, portfolio with results of these exercises
(circa 12-15 pages)


Blackboard will be used to make information and assignments available. Blackboard module for this course wil be availavle for registration from 25 August 2010.

Reading list

  • Banks, Marcus 2005. Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage.

  • Grasseni, Cristina (Ed.) 2007. Skilled Visions: Between Apprenticeship and Standards. New York:

  • La Pastina, Antonio C. 2005. Audience Ethnographies: A Media Engagement Approach. In Eric W. Rothenbuhler & Mihai Coman (Eds), Media Anthropology. London: Sage, 139-148.

  • Orobitg, Gemma Canal 2004: Photography in the Field: Word and Image in Ethnographic Research. In: Sarah Pink, Laszlo Kürti & Ana Isabel Alfonso (Eds), Working Images: Visual Research and Representation in Ethnography. London: Routledge, 31-46.

  • Pink, Sarah 2007 (2001). Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media, and Representation in Research. London: Sage.