About

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) applies cutting edge ethnographic approaches to better understand how digital tech impacts our present lives and potential futures.

Our researchers work alongside students, communities, governmental or nonprofit agencies, and corporate partners to explore the creative possibilities of digital technologies as well as the social, economic, and political impacts. Our expertise ranges from studies of everyday lived experience, workplace and organizational analysis, policy and strategy analysis, design ethnography, co-design workshops, and creative collaborations with communities of practice. Hosted by RMIT in Melbourne, Australia, DERC offers world class training ground for PhD students. Ranked as one of the top two research centres in Australia focused on the social impact of digital media, DERC welcomes visiting artists, activists, and scholars from around the world.

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.

Partnerships

DERC is situated at RMIT and many projects involve local communities. We also have a strong international base and our mission includes impacting people’s lives, governmental policies, and methods education at global levels.

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.