Researching Teenagers’ (Mobile) Interaction Orders – Methodical and Methodological Reflections on a Challenging Field
Mobile phones play an essential role in the everyday lives and social relationships of young people. They are deeply embedded in peer interactions, not only as tools but also as references of interaction. The article is based on an empirical study, which investigates how young people interpret various situations of interaction through, and related to, mobile phones. Providing a useful heuristic to reconstruct the inherent rules, claims and expectations of such situations, Goffman’s concept of the interaction order was modified in regard to youth-specific and mobile media-specific dimensions with the help of a grounded theory approach.
The article deals with the methodical strategies that were applied as well as respective methodological questions that arose during the research process. In order to gain insights into the participants’ episodic and semantic knowledge about mobile media related situations, group interviews/discussions, mobile phone diaries and individual interviews were conducted. Each collection strategy is discussed in respect to its preconditions and execution. Additionally, problems regarding the role of the researcher in relation to the participants will be explicated.
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