The Digital Ethnography Research Centre – DERC

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) is internationally renowned for its research on the social and cultural implications of digital and data-led systems.

DERC is the world’s leading centre for digital ethnography. Our Centre is known for its innovative ethnographic approaches to digital culture and society. Our core and visiting researchers combine the richness and depth of ethnographic methods with critical insights from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, such as anthropology, media and cultural studies, science and technology studies, design, arts and documentary practiceeducation, critical algorithm studies, sociology and games research. 


What is Digital Ethnography?
Digital Ethnography is a powerful, immersive approach to theorising, conceptualising and practising research in digital and data rich environments.

Digital ethnography foregrounds the rich and shifting relationships between practices, beliefs, and media and environments. Whether studying workplace environments, domestic homes, online communities, or global flows of cultural information, Digital Ethnography embraces the complexities of contemporary social contexts.

Digital Ethnography methods are flexibly adaptive. This gives us the ability to find the best suited tool for the situation, the most resonant framework for understanding.

Digital ethnography today thus goes beyond traditional fieldwork by using mixed methods to investigate such contexts as rapidly transforming human-machine landscapes, study the role of non- or post human actors in social relationships, examine the complexity and influence of infrastructures on cultural formations, and explore relations as information flows across social networks.

While DERC is firmly grounded in the RMIT and Melbourne-based research communities, its mission is also public and outward facing.


DERC maintains and develops partnerships with a range of institutions in Australia and globally, including other universities, companies and not-for-profit organisations. DERC is closely linked to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society.


In addition to ongoing research projects, we host conferences, symposia, workshops, films and performances. DERC regularly hosts international visitors, scholars and artists. DERC is a member of the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centres.

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