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Research Methods for Digital Work and Organization

Investigating Distributed, Multi-Modal, and Mobile Work

Edited by Gillian Symon, Katrina Pritchard, and Christine Hine

Publication Date - 21 January 2022

ISBN: 9780198860686

400 pages
9.2 x 6.1 inches

In Stock


Digital work has become increasingly common, taking a wide variety of forms including working from home, mobile work, gig work, crowdsourcing, and online volunteering. It is organizationally, interpretively, spatially, and temporally complex. An array of innovative methodologies have begun to emerge to capture this complexity, whether through re-purposing existing tools, devising entirely novel methods, or mixing old and new. This volume brings together some of these techniques in an accessible sourcebook for management, business, organizational, and work researchers.

It presents a range of innovative methods which capture and analyse digitally-related work practices through reflexive accounts of real-world research projects, and elucidates the range of challenges such methods may raise for research practice. It outlines debates and recommendations, and provides further reading and information to support research practice. The book is organised in four sections that reflect different areas of focus and methodological approaches: working with screens; digital working practices; distributed work and organizing; and digital traces of work. It then concludes by reflecting on the methodological issues, research ethics, requisite skills, and future of research given the intensification of digital work during a global pandemic that has impacted all aspects of our lives.


  • An accessible source of research methods for studying digital work and organization, an area of increasing relevance and importance
  • Based on reflexive accounts of contemporary research projects to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of method application
  • Reflects on methodological issues as well as ethical considerations, requisite skills, and the future direction of research

About the Author(s)

Gillian Symon, Professor of Organization Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London,Katrina Pritchard, Professor, Swansea University,Christine Hine, Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey

Gillian Symon is Professor of Organization Studies in the School of Business and Management at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research focuses on understanding digital work and organization as sociomaterial practice, and she specialises in qualitative approaches to analysing and understanding work and organization. She has co-edited four compendia of qualitative methods in this area, including Organizational Qualitative Research: Core Methods and Current Challenges (Symon and Cassell, 2012, Sage Publications). She is also co-founding editor of the journal Qualitative Research in Organization and Management (Emerald Publishing, with Catherine Cassell).

Katrina Pritchard is a Professor in the School of Management, Swansea University. She is a qualitative researcher who embraces methodological diversity and innovation. She has published widely on topics ranging from digital ethics, ethnography, and visual studies to multi-method research, drawing on her research in organization studies across the topics of identity, diversity, and technology use at work. With Rebecca Whiting, she recently authored Collecting Qualitative Data using Digital Methods (2020, Sage Publications).

Christine Hine is Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey. She is a sociologist of science and technology with a particular focus on the role played by new technologies in the knowledge construction process. She has a major interest in the development of ethnography in technical settings and in the use of the Internet in social research. She is author of Virtual Ethnography (2000, Sage Publications), The Internet (2012, Oxford), and Ethnography for the Internet (2015, Bloomsbury), and editor of Virtual Methods (2005, Berg) and co-editor of Digital Methods for Social Science (2016, Palgrave).

Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: The Challenge of Digital Work and Organization for Research Methods, Gillian Symon, Katrina Pritchard, and Christine Hine
    Section 1. Working With Screens
    2. Wrestling with Digital Objects and Technologies in Studies of Work, Diane E. Bailey, Stephen R. Barley, and Paul M. Leonardi
    3. Screen Mediated Work in an Ethnography of Statistical Practices: Screen Theories and Methodological Positions, Francisca Grommé
    4. 'Me, Myself, and iPhone': Sociomaterial Reflections on the Phone as Methodological Instrument in London's Gig-Economy, Adam Badger
    5. The Heartbeat of Fieldwork: On Doing Ethnography in Traffic Control Rooms, Claudio Coletta
    Section 2. Digital Working Practices
    6. Digital Diaries as a Research Method for Capturing Practices In Situ, Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi, Cami Goray, Stephanie Zirker, and Yinglong Zhang
    7. Using Netnography to Investigate Travel Blogging as Digital Work, Nina Willment
    8. Autoethnography and the Digital Volunteer, Christine Hine
    9. Research Methods to Study and Empower Crowd Workers, Saiph Savage, Carlos Toxtli, and Eber Betanzos-Torres
    Section 3. Distributed Work and Organizing
    10. Exploring Organisation Through Contributions: Using Activity Theory for the Study of Contemporary Digital Labour Practices, David Rozas and Steven Huckle
    11. Thick Big Data: Development of Mixed Methods for Study of Wikipedia Working Practices, Dariusz Jemielniak and Agata Stasik
    12. Images, Text, and Emotions: Multimodality Research on Emotion-Symbolic Work, Itziar Castelló, David Barberá-Tomás, and Frank G. A. de Bakker
    13. Structuring the Haystack: Studying Online Communities with Dictionary-Based Supervised Text Analysis and Network Visualization, Eliane Bucher, Peter Kalum Schou, Matthias Waldkirch, Eduard Grünwald, and David Antons
    Section 4. Digital Traces of Work
    14. After Vanity Metrics: Critical Analytics for Social Media Analysis, Richard Rogers
    15. Investigating Online Unmanaged Organization: Antenarrative as a Methodological Approach, Adriana Wilner, Tania Pereira Christopoulos, and Mario Aquino Alves
    16. Tinkering with Method as we Go: An Account of Capturing Digital Traces of Work on Social Media, Viviane Sergi and Claudine Bonneau
    17. Organizational Culture in Tracked Changes: Format and Affordance in Consequential Workplace Documents, Andrew Whelan
    18. Conclusion: Reflections on Ethics, Skills, and Future Challenges in Research Methods for Digital Work and Organizations, Christine Hine, Katrina Pritchard, and Gillian Symon

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