Notes on POPREBEL / NGI Forward Ethnography Subtasks

@anique.yael and I just had a call to discuss some of the details for the ethnographic portion of both research projects. Our notes are below, as well as the person specification for the ethnographers.

Multi-lingual ethnographic coding role specification

Populist themes resonate with a part of the European population. To people who reject populism, this resonance can be hard to understand and empathise with, as it seems at odds with the observed long-term trends towards societal prosperity and openness. Conversely, people who find populism attractive cannot reconcile what they perceive with the optimistic narrative of their political adversaries. Edgeryders is co-conducting a research project on populism in Europe, convening a participatory online conversation to learn what the rise of populist politics looks like from the point of view of Europeans living their daily lives. The project is a structured effort to listen to the voices of people on the ground, providing a breakdown of populism that encodes the point of view of the people directly affected by it, both supporters and opposers.

POPREBEL is looking to hire ethnographers to collaborate with us on this project. This would run for about three years (January 2019 - August 2021), on a part-time basis. We have a total budget of XXX Euro.

  • Familiar with the theory and practice of ethnography.
  • Comfortable with online ethnography.
  • Experience with qualitative data analysis, specifically qualitative coding. The software is unimportant as we have our own, which you will learn.
  • Ability to collaborate with other ethnographers coding the same dataset in different languages.
  • Flexibility and willingness to engage in productive dialogue around coding decisions‚ÄĒ good communication skills are a must.
  • Good knowledge of English as well as one of the following languages: Polish, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian.


  • Code the conversations, using a tool we built in-house called Open Ethnographer.
  • Build an ontology of relevant codes, appropriate to ethnographic coding of the online conversation, and keep a detailed and organised codebook.
  • Collaborate with other ethnographers to maintain a consistent multi-language coding ontology.
  • Help to compile an ethnographic report at the conclusion of the project.
  • Participate in the discussion towards improving both Open Ethnographer and the SSNA methodology.

The kind of qualitative coding we do has an added element to it: we use the codes to build a social semantic network, mixing ethnography and network science to produce a visualisation of the convened conversation. Thanks to the ethnography, now edges carry information about the meaning of interactions. This method of inquiry preserves the richness of conversation but provides some hard quantitative measures. With social semantic network analysis (SSNA), we can identify networks of codes, and measure their cohesiveness; identify emergent networks of specialists, who interact around specific keywords; and validate individual contributors, among other applications (to learn more, see: Semantic Social Network Analysis: the video).

As part of the role, you can also use the ethnographic/SSNA data to produce publications.


  • You can do the work online, from wherever you are, but you will be requested to participate in one or more physical meetings. Your travel expenses for these meetings will be covered by POPREBEL.

  • If you happen to be in Brussels, you can also come to the Reef, but that‚Äôs not a requisite. We coordinate and communicate through the Edgeryders platform.

To apply: write to INSERT CONTACT. Include:

  • A short motivation letter, explaining why you want to do this and why you think you can deliver.
  • A CV.

Overarching Ethnographic team specifications

  • Two projects double the size of OPENCARE each ‚Üí with other language fora = approximately 1.3 OPENCARE‚Äôs for ethnographic coding
  • POPREBEL starts in January 2019
  • Platform live in March 2019
  • Coding as soon as tech appears on the platform - keep abreast of the posting
  • NGI Forward will begin in early 2019, exactly when to be confirmed.


  • UCL (Jan), UB, CUNI 5PMS across community management and ethnographic coding

  • = 2.5PMS each Task = 10% one person‚Äôs time over 24 months = about 5hrs/ week over 2yrs

  • = 1 person in Polish 10% of their time + 1 person in Czech 10% of their time + 1 person in Serbo Croatian 10% of their time

  • **How much of the corpus do they want focused on each language/ context?

  • Is that enough for coding those languages?

  • What percentage of the dataset will be in each language?

  • Will that be enough hours for the other coders - eg. if we have a surplus of Polish posts. Need to plan for the event that we were to have for more in the other languages.

  • NB. Allocate less to Amelia to allow for engaging extra coding time on other languages if need be

  • Include in person specification for other languages that more coding for more time/money may be possible, so under ‚Äúideal‚ÄĚ specifications the person would have time to take on a bit more should we end up having large amounts of posts in their language on the platform. If not we can hire another person to work in that language, but this is the less ideal option.

  • If the coders are already researchers on the topic there may be spill in terms of their own research time.

  • Amelia - team lead/ontology + English coding + liaison on recruitment + report

  • Coding and lead 20% over 24 months + Ontology 10% over 20 months

  • Report 20% over 6 months

  • Right now sufficient and has capacity

  • Has to be in the thick of the coding to be able to build the ontology

  • How are you going to train and mentor them? Your needs?

    • Academy course + kick off meeting
    • Travel budget to have an in-person training meeting as coding kicks off (three language coders + Amelia to Reef)
    • 1-2 days
    • Establish coding practices, meet, graphryder demo etc.
  • Bi-weekly check-ins (every other week)

Objectives of T 2.3

  • Code participant-generated content as it unfolds on the POPREBEL platform. By ‚Äúcoding‚ÄĚ, we mean the ethnographic sense of the word, ‚Äúiteratively tagging to identify core themes in the conversation‚ÄĚ. Goals: the conversation coded in full at month 33.

  • Maintain a consistent multi-language and multimedia coding ontology across the project. Goal: each code in each language has exactly one equivalent in each of the other languages.

Description of Work Task 2.3 (Involved: EDGE, UCL, CUNI, BE. Months 6-30)

  • We code the POPREBEL conversation in-platform. The platform, which hosts POPREBEL, comes with an application called Open Ethnographer, which does just that.

  • Ethnographers work in teams to ensure intercoder reliability, and report regularly.

  • This is done using strategies from Grounded Theory [Corbin & Strauss, 2008] to minimize the impact of researchers‚Äô pre-conceived ideas about data, while acknowledging that no ‚Äėneutral‚Äô or ‚Äėdepersonalized‚Äô coding reg-
    imen can exist.

  • As we code, we produce and maintain a multi-lingual ontology of codes applied to POPREBEL‚Äôs conversation.

This takes the form of a regularly updated wiki containing the list of codes in use; their definition; and their equivalent in each of the other POPREBEL languages.

Milestones and deliverables

D2.3 Month13 Ontology, first version
MS 2.5 Month 32 Coding finished
D2.5 Month 32 Ontology, second version
D2.6 Month 34 Report: an ethnography of European populism

NGI Forward

  • Other language coding

    • French, Italian, Polish & German - 4 x language ethnographers each 10% over 24 months = 5hrs/ week over 2years
  • Amelia - team lead/ontology + English coding + recruitment of team + report

    • Coding and lead 20% over 24 months + Ontology 10% over 20 months
    • Report 20% over 6 months (feeds into other Policy Lab and NGI Visions)
    • Not sure if there‚Äôs a middle ground - ready to go full steam ahead. Is there a back up plan?
    • ‚Üí Yearly contracts so can reassess each year
    • Committed to lead the Ethnographic team and would hand over English coding and ontology if need be

(Ethnographic coding and net / data analysis - @anique.yael need to separate out as different tasks)

T2.4:Induce, visualize and analyse the semantic social network from the conversation [M1-M36] Partner(s): Edgeryders (Task leader), Aarhus University, DELab

Motivation for the task: To make the most of the wisdom and knowledge contained in the contributions to the NGI Forward conversation, we turn them into structured data and subject them to analysis. We do this by coding participant-generated content, discussions and debates as they unfold on the platform, enabling us and other participants to easily find previous conversations and connections, and collecting core insights from these conversations into an interactive quali-quantitative data visualisation, insights from which will directly flow into the articulation of our NGI Vision.

Work plan: We code participant-generated content as it unfolds on the NGI Forward platform. By ‚Äúcoding‚ÄĚ, we mean the ethnographic sense of the word, ‚Äúiteratively tagging to identify core themes in the conversation‚ÄĚ. We code the conversation in-platform, using our built-in application Open Ethnographer, Ethnographers work in teams to ensure intercoder reliability, and report back regularly. To ensure consistency, we maintain a consistent multi-language coding ontology across the project, with as our aim ensuring each code in each language has exactly one equivalent in each of the other languages . We visualise the data with an interactive dashboard built on Graphryder. This allows us to visualise conversations and strong connections, drilling down on specific topics (‚Äėethno codes‚ÄĚ) of interest.

Partners role: This task will be led by Edgeryders, with partners consulted for topic and language advice when needed.

Relationship with other tasks: Tagging content allows us to analyse in depth the conversations generated on the platform, building on the debates facilitated in T2.1 and T2.2. Analysis will flow into T2.5, will directly inform the final NGI white paper (T6.8) and future scenario building (T2.1).


D2.2 [Month 13] Coding ontology, first version
D2.4 [Month 32] Coding ontology, second version
D2.5 [Month 34] Report: The collective intelligence of a human-centric NGI


MS2.3 : Coding finished Month 32


I don’t understand everything, but it looks about right.

Two observations on the call for ethnographers:

Risks being misleading. Also, the other partners will insist this is not disclosed.

Triple check that this does not offend any sensitivities. AFAIK both Serbia and Croatia are following a ‚ÄúCatalan strategy‚ÄĚ, emphasizing local differences and claiming that dialects are, in fact, languages. Our POPREBEL partners should be able to give us guidance here.

Noted @alberto.

I’ll update the budget line to time currently allocated and to be discussed with partners as per community management conversation.

Serbo-Croatian is directly from the proposal but I’ll clarify in today’s meeting, great point.

I remember seeing it and wondering. But the proposal is not for public consumption, so I did not worry.

Cool, will check. Also, I’ve just cleaned up the post in an attempt to make our notes more legible.

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I had the same question and went with the proposal figuring that it was vetted by the partners, but 100 percent agree that double checking is important

Thanks for the cleanup @anique.yael :slight_smile:

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