Conceptualising the use of Facebook in ethnographic research: as tool, as data and as context

Baker, Sally (2013). Conceptualising the use of Facebook in ethnographic research: as tool, as data and as context. Ethnography and Education, 8(2) pp. 131–145.



This article proposes a three-part conceptualisation of the use of Facebook in ethnographic research: as a tool, as data and as context. Longitudinal research with young adults at a time of significant change provides many challenges for the ethnographic researcher, such as maintaining channels of communication and high rates of participant attrition. Facebook offers a resolution to such challenges as a measure of maintaining research interest and relationships, alongside its potential as a unique research tool and rich source of data on students' reading and writing practices. Despite significant methodological and ethical issues arising from the use of Facebook in the research study presented, this article argues that the benefits of using Facebook, such as its potential for maintaining communication, providing context and generating data, override any such issues and offers valuable insights and commentary on facilitating online–offline longitudinal research with young people.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions



  • Item ORO ID
  • 37684
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1745-7831
  • Extra Information
  • Special issue: Doing Educational Ethnography in an Online World: Methodological Challenges, Choices and Innovations
  • Keywords
  • Facebook; longitudinal research; methodology; ethical issues; literacies; transition
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2013 Taylor & Francis
  • Depositing User
  • Sally Baker