12/16/2008

Research Plan

So, I talked for a long time about creating a research project to top off my Chinese Language and Literature degree, something that emphasizes my anthropology background. First I was thinking of something more related to medical anthropology, emergent sexualities in China, but living in Shanghai, I feel pretty disinterested with the venues and activities related to that topic, so that kind of research will have to be saved for another time and another place. Instead, I decided to wait until an idea came to me. And about a month ago, that idea did, and I've been developing it since then.

The research plan is the first stage of research process that I envisage in this manner. Stages One through Four will take place here in China. Stages Five through seven, back home in Canada.

Stage One: Formulate the research question and research plan
Stage Two: Begin initial research, data gathering, participant observation
Stage Three: Clarify the research question
Stage Four: Narrow research, begin to organize data, cultivate informants
Stage Five: Organize data
Stage Six: Formulate the thesis
Stage Seven: Write like there's no tomorrow.
My initial research topic I've latched on to comes out of how I've been practicing my Chinese reading ability and exploring Chinese culture.

For a long time, I've been keeping up with EastSouthWestNorth, a website run by Roland Soong, where he translates posts from across the Chinese internet. Finally feeling confidant enough about my Chinese ability, I decided to stop relying on translation from ESWN and the new translation website on the net, ChinaSMACK. I started reading the forums at Tianya and Mop, the two major Chinese news forums. Before my impression of the Chinese internet was very based on the news events of political interest that came to the attention of ESWN, but I found that I was fascinated by how people were using the internet to talk about the small conflicts in their life, their feelings about their friends, family and work. I'm still interested in the political importance of the internet in China, but I'm more fascinated with how people use the internet to report on their own lives.

The initial topic that I'm using to frame my research question is "Autobiography and Anonymity in the Chinese Online World." I'll follow up tomorrow with a discussion of my research question and the theoretical and social issues that I'm researching.

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