Hi all, in this thread I will be sharing weekly memos, that shed light on what’s happening in my fieldwork.
Method: digital ethnography, classic ethnography
Research group: users of the Polish-speaking web that engage in online discussions on current topics,
Study overview: In general, in this study, I will provide an in-depth overview of social responses from across the political spectrum to health-related governmental action, politics, and policies during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, I want to explore the narratives and practices of research participants, who are Polish and were in need of medical treatment during the pandemic, and used the Internet for help or information.**
Fieldwork: Health communication mediascape, which consists of various social networking sites, imageboards, healthcare forums, blogs, and alternative media outlets, among others.
Aims of the study:
- Collect a number of biographical narratives from research participants in order to see how their political interests are shaped by their day-to-day life, major life events, and general wellbeing.
- To map Polish digital public sphere to support the understanding of the political debate/discussion dynamics across the Polish speaking-web (and to understand from where the interviewees are coming from, as they are to be ‘recruited’ in those various spaces that represent various demographics).
Based on the preliminary findings from the pilot study, the topics of interest are:
- narratives on Poland being a cardboard state, and related issues,
- expert and public authority crisis, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic being a most vivid example of changing social dynamics in that regard.
- picking up on emotions: fear (lęk), anger (gniew), shame (wstyd),
- polarization: socio-cultural, political, economic,
- gender issues: predominantly cases of women rights (pay gap, unpaid informal work of women, reproductive rights in Poland (abortion, in-vitro), LGBTQ rights, the so-called “gender ideology” particularly in the context of the EU,
- generational differences: is C19 strengthening a sense of insecurity in the younger generation, that gets introduced to adulthood in the pandemic times?
- Catholic church: changing the perception of the church in relation to various controversies, primarily the pedophilia cases, reflection on the oppressive nature of conservative values.
Participant observation in digital public spaces
The role of participant observation will be twofold. First, to locate and map various spaces of discussion across the Polish-speaking web to aid the understanding of the digital public sphere in Poland. Second, to invite Internet users with diverse backgrounds to take part in the study, either by agreeing to be interviewed, or joining the Edgeryders community to engage in discussions and exchange views.
Digital interviews, either video, voice, or through chats:
Digital interviews play a substantial role in the study, as an addition to the textual analysis of conversations taking place on the Edgeryders platform. Interviews will be focused on life-stories, following the biographical method.
An interactive research engagement with research participants in discussions on topics of relevance.
- To have minimum 5 interviews by the end of the March, and keep growing that number over the next several months.
- Invite a number of interviewees to group discussions at the ER platform, starting mid April.
- Pick a few joint topics that emerge from digital fieldworks in Germany and Czechia and discuss them with ER users across the platform (as in the three Wellbeing subcategories).
Detailed issues to be discussed:
- Experiences of accessibility of healthcare services pre-pandemic, in the beginning, and now, in the midst of the 2nd pandemic wave;
- Practices and, perhaps, strategies of living with various pandemic restrictions, including ways of using the Web for information.
- Questions regarding various pandemic-related policies and politics: (1) Trust towards healthcare authorities and information sources – investigating anti-intellectualist narratives of the conservative right, as well as perceptions of competency and incompetency in general, and in particular amongst healthcare practitioners (ambiguity of facts, medical mistakes, science mistakes, corona skepticism, misinformation); (2) Governmental support to help families, businesses, precarious workers, and economic sectors in crisis – comments on broader consequences of pandemic restrictions and lockdown policies; (3) 2020 presidential elections, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-migration narratives during the pandemic as substitute topics to distract the public from the governmental inability to handle the coronavirus outbreak. (4) Recent reproductive rights protests against the anti-abortion ruling of the Constitutional Court – was the ruling scheduled now because the government hoped the public will not notice preoccupied with the pandemic, or won’t protest because of it, OR, rather, it is itself a distraction from how bad the government is dealing with the pandemic – and that it passed a law that some say will make COVID-19 vaccination obligatory?