When engaging in field participation and observations, researchers play the roles of observers (that is, outsiders) and participants (that is, insiders among the online audience) (Hine, 2000). Because of the duality of the researchers’ roles, the researchers must maintain not only a good relationship with other audience members but also a psychological and spatial distance while involved in live video streaming activities (Wang, 2019a, b). The method entailed both overt and covert observations. (1) During the first stage, covert observation was implemented. In other words, the observation of a live video streaming situation was conducted without the subjects’ awareness of being observed. The researchers did not interfere with or destroy the social structure or interpersonal networking of the online audiences; thus, real and natural information was obtained (Wang, 2018). (2) During the second and third stages, overt observation was employed. In other words, the audiences were aware that the researchers were observing them. Because both sides were online audiences and had already developed a close relationship, less well-known information was obtained and the truth was revealed, enabling further understanding of the background context of the continuity and correlation of live video streaming. Through the field participation and observations, the researchers obtained a more direct understanding of the events that occurred and the interactions among the audience members (Wang et al„ 2017).

We documented the information gained in the field observations and recorded that information in text form as “Field Notes.” This study followed Bogdan and Biklen’s (1998) description of thinking, providing both objective and reflective descriptions. In the first stage, we implemented objective descriptions (Denzin, 2006; Wang, 2018), focusing on the description of live scenes, characters, actions, and conversations in the live video streaming. The descriptions were faithful, detailed, and accurately expressed to the best of our ability, without employing abstract wording. We focused on making a textual record that contained objective descriptions. During the second and third stages, we utilized reflective descriptions (Demuth & Mey, 2015; Wang, 2019), focusing on the customers’ personal psychology, thoughts, and primary concerns. The emphasis was on speculations, feelings, thoughts, premonitions, impressions, possible prejudices, and so on. In the process of retrospection, mistakes and misunderstandings in the record were clarified and corrected. In this section, we looked at the field participation and observations. In the next section, I will illustrate inductive analysis and context induction.


The netnographic analysis we performed adopted an inductive approach. Through constant comparisons of the interview contents from the various respondents, social categories for presenting the characteristics of the interview content were developed (Kozinets, 2020). Through this systematic data collection and analysis process, theoretical insights were excavated and formed. The study was based on interview materials (interviews, observations from the field participation, meeting notes, files, and other phenomena) with a pre-set perspective but without a predetermined conclusion (Demuth 8c Mey, 2015), further encouraging a strategy framework.

Verbatim transcriptions were produced from the digital recordings. The analysis of the text was undertaken using QSR NVI VO software. All variables were obtained using grounded theory-based coding techniques (Strauss 8c Corbin, 1998; Miller 8c Slater, 2000). Our coding followed Charmaz’s (2006) guidelines and encompassed open, axial and selective coding procedures to arrive at a core central category that led to a set of research propositions. In this section, we looked at the text analysis and context induction. In the next section, I will illustrate the implications from my research design.


A Three-Stage Situational Context Approach

This study emphasized how theory emerged from the meaning of the text through a process of induction. The findings of the study were produced following a three-stage “situational context” approach, which is presented herein in the form of propositions. Finally, the insights of a “contextualization experiences model” were developed, as shown in Figure 18.1.

As illustrated in Figure 18.1, theory was developed inductively based on abstraction from a systematic process of data collection, analysis, discovery, integration, and classification. The findings of this study relate to three stages of “situational context” that guided the theory-building process. The term “situational context” refers to the online environment and atmosphere that a user is connected directly to, that is, the users genuine psychological state

The Model of Contextualization Experiences

Figure 18.1 The Model of Contextualization Experiences.

in an online environment. From a users perspective, an online environment is objective, and different users can exist in the same network environment. Online context combines subjectivity and objectivity, and it is influenced by three dimensions, namely, the participatory component of direct experience, individual online experience, and online culture (Wang, 2019a, b).

The first stage mainly involved online observations and archival data collection and analysis (Kozinets, 1998,2002). It entailed collecting users’ self-reports online and analyzing old data files and electronic bulletin board information. The researchers attempted to maintain some distance between the academic study and the phenomena experienced as observers (lurkers). The second stage primarily involved active participation in online activities and an emphasis on personally experiencing users’ feelings and participation in the discussion of issues (Demuth & Mey, 2015). The researchers officially transitioned from being passive lurkers and became positive live video streaming users. They took the initiative to communicate with 105 online users to exchange ideas. Instant online conversation was performed through LINE or Skype to clarify special actions or feelings in the users’ self-reports. The third stage, emergent design, concerned performing online and offline (face-to-face) observations and interviews (Hine, 2000). The researchers proposed issues or asked questions according to observations and the researchers’ personal experience in the first two stages. After a withdrawal from the online mode, the work of netnography was transferred offline.

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