This is a three-session seminar on the IoE Doctoral School Research Training Programme that is open to all research students and staff. The convenors are Paul Dowling and Natasha Whiteman.

The development of the Internet and emergence of various forms of social life online has provided researchers with a wealth of new empirical sites for investigation. The mediated nature of these environments has also, however, raised a number of methodological problems and challenges. This seminar is concerned with the study of 'virtual' communities and the methodological repercussions of the move from real world settings (inhabited by embodied subjects) to online environments. The course examines these repercussions alongside a consideration of some of the key issues and anxieties in the growing fields of Internet research; the reworking of traditional ethnographic practice in response to the challenges of online cultures, the status of concepts such as 'community' and 'identity' in the context of computer-mediated environments, and the nature of 'ethical' conduct in Internet-based research. The course will also consider how these issues resonate with more general methodological concerns.

The seminar will run twice during the 2006-7 academic year:

Autumn term: Tuesdays 24th & 31st October & 7th November, 17:30-19:30
Spring term: Thursdays 18th & 25th January & 1st February, 14:00-16:00