Community partners acting as insider researchers to facilitate a Do-It-Yourself networking

Davies, Gareth; Hausel, Katalin and Stevens, James (2018). Community partners acting as insider researchers to facilitate a Do-It-Yourself networking. In: British Autoethnography Association Conference 2018, 23 & 24 Jul 2018, Bristol, UK.


In the paper we explain the role and facilitation of autoethnography to support the development and use of a Do-It-Yourself networking toolkit. The EU-funded MAZI project has been experimenting with the use of low-cost hardware wireless technology and open-source software for developing a toolkit that can be controlled and deployed by local actors. The goal has been to foster social cohesion, conviviality, knowledge sharing, and sustainable living by bring together those already living in physical proximity. To achieve this, community partners in four pilots across Europe (London, Berlin, Zurich, Kokkinopilos) have played an integral role as “insider researchers”. Researching social life in this way has been messy, uncertain and emotional and has required methods that are agile enough to accommodate the chaotic nature of social interactions (Adams et al., 2014; Gilbert, 2008). Our community partners have had to blur the boundaries between acting as members of their communities whilst also researching and reporting on local activities as members of the MAZI consortium to develop fit-for-purpose technology. Reflecting on our comparative evaluation we offer insights into how DIY networking affords opportunities for autoethnography; facilitating learning through the critique of cultural beliefs, practices, and experiences of engaging with the toolkit.

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