Researcher Development Initiative (RDI), 2005 - 2010

Live Sociology: Practising Social Research with New Media

01/01/06 - 31/12/08


This project aimed to re-think the gathering, analysis and presentation of research data and consider the future of ethnographic sociological representation. The project explored opportunities to enhance the scope, depth and rigour of qualitative research offered by the use of new media in ethnographic social research. They included the development of new techniques to collect, analyse, archive, curate and exploit the many kinds of data employed in ethnographic social research; the potential to use many media – sound, image and transcript - in the production of ethnographic sociological texts; the potential to bring sociology ‘alive’ by introducing interactivity and exploiting the possibilities of new media.


The programme consists of five workshops over the course of a year, culminating in a two day workshop conference. Participants presented their work and explored with leading practitioners in the field the possibilities that multi-media possess to change the future of sociological representation. The workshop programme was repeated three times training a total of 74 researchers. It surveyed a range of new options in the use of new media: how PDF (Acrobat) formats can be used to make simple interactive CD Roms including sociological text and visual work; the possibilities for redesigning the relationship between the observer and observed using digital photography; the potential of soundscape recording to enhance ethnographic attentiveness; and the opportunities of using on-line interactivity to facilitate a relationship between researchers, research participants and users. The programme recruited participants from within the full range of career stages from MA students to professors.


Principal Investigator: Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London
Co-Investigator: Professor Celia Lury, Goldsmiths, University of London

Contact Details

Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths,
University of London

Tel: 020 7919 7380