Getting there… and back: how ethnographic commuting (by bicycle) shaped a study of Australian backyard technologists

Jungnickel, Katrina. 2013. Getting there… and back: how ethnographic commuting (by bicycle) shaped a study of Australian backyard technologists. Qualitative Research, 14(6), pp. 640-655. ISSN 1468-7941 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

Attention in ethnographic fieldwork, and particularly in multi-sited studies, has traditionally focused on the movement of people, things and ideas across distributed points. Recently, interest has gained purchase, particularly in mobilities and science and technology studies, on how the researcher physically gets from one place to another for the purpose of exploring the bearing, if any, mobility decisions and positionalities have on the nature of study and findings. The article contributes to this literature by defining four kinds of ethnographic mobility and focusing specifically on how a researcher gets there and back, or what can be termed ethnographic commuting. It draws on research conducted in two groups of backyard technologists in Australia (an initial study of a grassroots wireless network, which, as a result of my ethnographic commuting, grew to include a freakbike community). I discuss how cycling, initially adopted as a convenient form of transport between fieldsites, became an unexpected tool of enquiry, opening up new sites for study, providing entry into related social groups, catalysing new ways of thinking and, ultimately, (re)shaping my research. I highlight lessons learned and offer suggestions for approaching the ethnographic commute.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Australia, cycling, ethnography, freakbike, mobilities, multi-sited methods, science and technology studies, WiFi

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Oct 2013 16:04

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 09:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)