In this paper I present an ethnographic approach to the research of hackerspaces. It draws upon an ethnomethodological background in order to address the role of members’ skills and knowledge. To that end, I aim for an immersive ethnographic approach in order to achieve a first-hand understanding of members’ practices. In this, I draw upon ethnomethodology as it provides a rich theoretical and methodological background for the study of skill and knowledge, namely the call for practical knowledge as an analytical instrument (Garfinkel 2006). In order to fully understand the implications of social movements like hacking and making communities, appropriate research methods are called for. Ethnomethodology, with its tradition in the analysis of epistemic practices and embodied knowledge, can provide the means for a more immersive and reflexive ethnography. By using materials of my own ethnography, I demonstrate how active engagement with members’ practices can provide for a deeper ethnographic understanding. In order to overcome the challenges of the field, I chose to adopt a project of coding myself. This acquisition of field-specific knowledge proved to be not only a valuable resource for the ongoing fieldwork but could offer important analytical insights in itself. I will show that important facets of members’ meanings were accessible only through personal experience. I suggest a broader adoption of ethnomethodological principles in ethnographic research of hackerspaces as it accommodates the underlying affinity towards experimentation prevalent in the field.
dous social unrest.2 In their study about the network of collective actions
∗ Haris Malamidis is a PhD candidate in Political Science and Sociology and
member of the Center on Social Movement Studies (Cosmos) at Scuola Nor-
male Superiore, Italy. His PhD dissertation deals with socialmovements, soli-
darity structures and social cooperatives and the development of contentious dy-
namics during the times of crisis.
1 Armin Schäfer/Wolfgang Streeck, “Introduction: Politics in the age of austeri-
technically, politically, and economically, rethinking what the “politics
of data” means for their own practice, especially in the context of surveillance
(Ganesh/Hankey 2015). They increasingly seek to counter massive data collection
by means of resistance and obfuscation. Although the circumvention of surveil-
lance is a long-standing practice amongst socialmovements and certainly pre-
dates datafication (see, e. g., della Porta 1995), dedicated events, trainings, and
off-the-shelves tools to secure digital communications have mushroomed over
the last few years