The creation of folk cultures on the internet: a proposed methodology of investigation with case studies

Mason, Bruce Lionel (2007) The creation of folk cultures on the internet: a proposed methodology of investigation with case studies. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis follows in a long tradition of Folklore Studies that have focussed on the relationship between technology and folklore. In this case I examine the use of the Internet as a medium of communication which can be used to facilitate the formation, maintenance and propagation of folk groups. Consequently this thesis interrogates the potential for folklife online. To do this, I have conducted a "virtual ethnography" of an online group of fans of the English Association Football team: Middlesbrough Football Club. The study presented here is an exercise in the examination of the methodology of virtual ethnography as much as it is an examination of the case study at hand. It is also an examination of a potential intellectual framework for a folkloristic study of culture online. Consequently this thesis assays three main tasks. Firstly it contextualises the Internet as a 'place' in which folklore can be studied. Secondly it assesses virtual ethnography as a methodology for the study of folklife online and, thirdly, it applies the methodology to the study of an online group. The research draws upon the "ethnography of speaking" and applies it to online communication. It does so within a tradition of interest in orality and literacy as applied to computer-mediated communication. The football fan group was chosen as a case study to enable the investigation of a complex set of online behaviour that seemed to challenge notions of what constitutes oral and literate behaviour online. It is my contention that complex negotiations of identity and group norms are encoded in emergent communicative rules and that the resultant group's folklife problematises many long-held notions that posit an egalitarian ethos for such groups which is grounded in the depiction of the Internet as a communications medium that lacks key communicative features.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 12274
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 366-409).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: April 2007
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: England--Middlesbrough
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Communication in folklore; Electronic discusssion groups--Folklore; Ethnology--Methodology; Internet users--Folklore--Methodology; Soccer fans--England--Middlesbrough--Electronic discussion groups--Folklore

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