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We may have been in lockdown for the first few months of 2020, but that didn’t stop DERC researchers from reaching across the world to launch several projects to study the impact of a global pandemic from a digital ethnography perspective.

Since mid-April, we’ve been in the field (virtually of course), reaching out to participants, gathering data, and generating some much-needed analysis of the social, workplace, and educational implications of COVID-19.

  • Monica Barratt is the Australian lead on a global initiative gathering data from over 70K participants about alcohol and other drug use during the pandemic.
  • Larissa Hjorth launched a project to study the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of students, along with Cat Gomes, Natalie Hendry, and Anne Harris, and other RMIT researchers.
  • Cat Gomes initiated an early response to critically examine how COVID-19 disrupts policies, procedures, operations and people around international education, along with colleagues from Monash University.
  • Rowan Wilken and James Meese are critically examining the conspiracies around 5G and COVID-19.
  • Tania Lewis, Andrew Glover, and Indigo Holcolmbe-James are studying the practices of remote work for people in lockdown. Tripta Chandola has launched an onsite ethnography in Delhi to study the politics of social distancing in the context of migrants in crowded urban space.
  • And since mid-April, Annette Markham and Anne Harris have been working with more than 150 researchers, artists, and activists from 27 different countries to explore autoethnographically how people are making sense of COVID-19 at both microscopic and massive levels.

These initiatives are only a fraction of what’s happening at DERC, but is a good indication of our commitment to studying matters of concern, doing research that makes a difference, and using digital ethnography to help critique and shape policies and practices across multiple publics, both locally and internationally.

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