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Research Articles

Vol. 2 No. 1 (2020): Doing Digital Ethnography: Private Messages from the Field

Somewhere between here and there: Negotiating Researcher Visibility in a Digital Ethnography of the Influencer Industry

October 15, 2019


Despite our preparation for fieldwork, a majority of what ethnographers actually do in the field is based on ‘gut-feeling’, ‘sensing’, and ‘whim’. This paper is a piece of reflexive ethnography detailing a series of minor but important methodological decisions pertaining to researcher visibility throughout fieldwork in a digital community of social media Influencers. It details one anthropologist’s private negotiations during the foray into the Influencer industry by situating the self along various spectrums of conspicuousness. These confessional anecdotes of ‘behind the scenes’ labour can be taken as suggestions on how to negotiate one’s positionalities during ethnographic encounters between and betwixt physical and digital fieldsites. I detail these through six experiences from the field – as the esteemed guest, the exotic inbetweener, the willing apprentice, the trophy acquaintance, the concealed consultant, and the passing confidante – in which I negotiate being ‘seen’, being on ‘show’, and ‘seeing’ from somewhere between here and there.