Article: Mad Practices and Mobilities: Bringing Voices to Digital Ethnography
There is a claim that digital media technologies can give voice to the voiceless (Alper 2017). As Couldry (2008) points out it is now commonplace for people – who have never done so before – to tell, share and exchange stories within, and through digital media. Additionally, the affordances of mobile media technologies allow people to speak, virtually anytime and anywhere, while the new internet based media sees that these processes converge to allow stories, information, ideas and discourses to circulate through communicative spaces, and into the daily lives of people (Sheller/Urry 2006). The purpose of this paper is to discuss a methodological framework that can be used to examine the extent that digital media practices can enable voice. My focus is on people ascribed the status of mental illness – people who have had an enduring history of silencing and oppression (Parr 2008). I propose theories of mobilities, and practice, to critically examine voice in practices related to digital media. In doing this, I advocate for digital ethnographic methods to engage these concepts, and to examine the potential of voice in digital mobile media. Specifically, I outline ethnographic methods involving the use of video (re)enactments of digital practices, and the use of reflective interviews to examine every day routines and movements in and around digital media (Pink 2012). I propose that observing and reflecting on such activities can generate insights into the significance these activities have in giving voice to those who are normally unheard.