PhD course with Paul Dourish

New ethnographic methods for technology studies – Between the field and the desk

This PhD course explores the ethnographic method. Revisiting the classical distinction between ‘field’ and ‘desk’, it asks how these constructs – field and desk – are reconfigured in an age where the world is connected in new ways. Today’s ethnographers experience fieldwork situations where concepts and matters from critical theoretical debates are already in place in the empirical field, where new technologies provide unprecedented ways of connecting, and access to the field from the desk is becoming commonplace. These changes raise questions about the character and dimensions of immersion, and an opportunity to reconsider classical themes within methodological discussions of ethnography.

This course proposes that topics central to recent discussions of the ethnographic method, such as multi-sited research, the challenges of bounding the field, the politics of research positioning, and the work and effects of contextualization techniques are still highly important. However, today’s students may find avenues in their research through which to reconsider the changing role, range and scope of the ethnographic method and the practice of these central themes. We invite essays reflecting on two or more of the listed topics that relate the readings to specific methodological and methods questions experienced in students’ own research. We furthermore welcome essays that consider the challenges of emergent practices in the field and at the desk, as well as reflections on the dawning ethic of experimentation in the arena of methods.

Students will be organized into thematic groups based on the way the course readings are addressed in papers. Each will be expected to act as a discussant for another paper, and will receive comments from a visiting or local professor.

Date of the course

Tuesday October 27 – Thursday Oct 29 – For full (tentative) programme and reading list please visit;


Paul Dourish Professor of Informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, UC irvine & Velux Visting Professor at ITU

Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Research Fellow at Department of Thematic Studies -Technology and Social Change, Linköping University

Third Speaker TBD


Christopher Gad, Marisa Cohn, Rachel Douglas-Jones, Technologies in Practice & Ethos Lab:


To take part in the course, send your 5-7 page essay to Rachel Douglas-Jones rdoj [at] itu [dot] dk Please title your email: New Ethnographic Methods.

Along with your 5-7 page essay, please also submit a) 100-200 word bio (including your university department and degree program, thesis topic area and keywords) and b) an indication of whether you would be interested in joining the PhD course dinner. There are a limited number of places available so in case of oversubscription, you will be notified if you have a place on the course.

Friday October 2nd is the deadline for the submission of paper and bio.