I have previously established that I am to conduct an ethnographic case study of the Sydney restaurant, the Grounds of Alexandria.
I will be looking at the symbiotic relationship between tangible, constructed spaces and the intangible mediascapes which they shape.
I am to be a participant-observer and experiencer both in the physical restaurant and in the online spaces where this phenomenon has etched its culture. These online spaces include but are not limited to: the official Grounds of Alexandria social media pages and website; the Grounds of Alexandria Instagram hashtag; third party content such as articles on Timeout; and customer reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor.
This project will involve a high degree of collaboration from a number of different sources; my approach will align with Erik Lassiter’s (2005) ideas about collaboration that avoids ‘othering’. To effectively be a participant experiencer I will need to be accompanied by at least one friend or family member when I visit the restaurant. Whilst here we will need to engage with the space as other patrons are, this may include: ordering and photographing food and drink as well as photographing each other in various places around the restaurant.
I will also need to record my observations of the other restaurant patrons, effectively turning them into my collaborators as well. Additionally, I plan on conducting unstructured interviews of some of the employees present at the restaurant, such as my waiter. Their comparatively high level of contact with the space may provide other insights that can not be not gained from participants alone.
Regarding the study of the online mediascape, I will again need to be a participant experiencer by sharing my own content in the same way that others have when engaging with this phenomenon online. I also will need to observe the media I find online and plumb it for information regarding the influence of the physical restaurant and how they work together.
Stakeholders for the project include the Grounds of Alexandria themselves, but also other restaurants and marketers. These groups would be looking to leverage their brand’s physical spaces to create publicity in paid, earned, shared and owned media forms.
It is important that I conduct myself in accordance with the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics. This highlights the importance of ‘honesty’, ‘fairness’, ‘independence’, and ‘respect for the rights of others’. I will commit myself to these values throughout my research to ensure I do not cause distress or harm to others. I will avoid naming specific participants, especially if they are employed by the restaurant; and I will ensure I have consent to take photographs and publish interviews.
I will communicate my final project on a dedicated website, likely produced through Wix. The primary inspiration for this comes from Sarah Pink’s study of Energy and Digital Living (2014) where her research was laid out in a digestible format across a single website. Additionally, I may take inspiration from Marsha Berry’s thick description conveyed through her use of vignettes. These were constructed based upon her participant’s interview responses and observations about their media use.
From preliminary research, it is my understanding that the online mediascape surrounding the Grounds of Alexandria phenomenon is highly visual. I will therefore also need to include pictorial elements across the presentation of my findings.
If you have not been to the Grounds of Alexandria, what have you heard about it? What have you seen about it online?
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Lassiter, E 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, in Lassiter, E (eds.), The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 15-24.
LEEDR 2014, Energy & Digital Living, viewed 27 September 2019, <http://energyanddigitalliving.com>.
Media Entertainment & Arts n.d., MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics, viewed 27 September 2019, <https://www.meaa.org/meaa-media/code-of-ethics/>.