Using social media as a source for understanding public perceptions of archaeology: Research challenges and methodological pitfalls

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Digital social science research has had an important impact on the types of methodological approaches to the internet and digital social phenomena, practices and communities. Whilst this paper does not seek to include empirical data, it aims to elaborate further on these debates in digital social research, that is, research on ‘life in digital society’ (Lindgren 2017: 230), using insights from my own research methods. This paper will firstly consider some methodological pitfalls that could sabotage our digital social archaeology research. It will then discuss the importance of understanding the framework and sources of our data. It will outline the two main methodological approaches I have used in my own empirical research to date – ‘thick’ social media data collection and analysis, and digital ethnography. It will discuss some of the many ethical considerations that must be assessed and implemented when undertaking this type of work. I will argue for a methodological pragmatism when undertaking social research in the fields of archaeology and heritage, although this pragmatism can be applied to any field of social study in the digital world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computer Applications in Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2019


  • digital methods
  • internet
  • social media
  • archaeology
  • methodology
  • Heritage

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