University Of Tasmania
155320 - Social media in ethnographic research.pdf (1.17 MB)

Social media in ethnographic research: critical reflections on using WeChat in researching Chinese outbound tourists

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:22 authored by Yue MaYue Ma, Cai, W
This methodology paper aims to offer useful guidelines for adopting social media in ethnography by reflecting on the two authors’ fieldwork experiences of using WeChat to investigate Chinese outbound tourists. The paper suggests social media as an effective tool to support data collection and analysis in ethnographic studies. Particularly, it helps to establish rapport with informants, collects various forms of data, assists in gaining a holistic understanding of the travel experience, makes good use of the fragmented time of participants to collect data, and improves the researcher’s wellbeing and effectiveness during fieldwork. In addition, the paper highlights the importance of reflecting on the embedded culture while adopting social media in ethnographic fieldwork. Barriers and challenges to using social media in ethnographic fieldwork are also discussed. We propose six recommendations and suggestions for researchers who may consider using social media in ethnography.


Publication title

Current Issues in Tourism









Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Socio-cultural issues in tourism; Health status (incl. wellbeing); Internet, digital and social media