WhatsApp, a popular messaging app, has transformed the nature of fieldwork for social scientists. It allows researchers to maintain constant contact with their participants, creating an ongoing dialogue that extends beyond the physical boundaries of the field. This blurring of lines between the professional and personal can lead to a sense of being ‘haunted’ by the fieldwork, as it invades everyday life.

The immediacy and intimacy of WhatsApp conversations can foster deeper connections between researchers and participants. This can be advantageous, providing rich, nuanced insights into people’s lives. Yet, it also presents challenges. The expectation of immediate responses can be demanding, and the intrusion into personal time can be stressful. Moreover, the app’s ‘last seen’ feature can create anxieties around visibility and surveillance.

WhatsApp is also changing the ethical landscape of fieldwork. The app’s features, such as the ability to delete messages, raise questions about data integrity and preservation. Furthermore, the blurred boundaries between professional and personal relationships can lead to ethical dilemmas.

In conclusion, WhatsApp is reshaping fieldwork in complex ways. It offers opportunities for deeper engagement and richer data, but also poses challenges around work-life balance, surveillance anxieties, and ethical considerations.

Go to source article: http://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/global-social-media/2015/11/03/fieldwork-is-haunting-me-thanks-to-whatsapp/