From Cyber-Ethnography to In-Depth Interviews: Learning About Girls Who Sell Sex and Men Who Purchase Sex in Compensated Dating

Abstract

This case spells out the design paradigm of studying individuals in one of the most stigmatized and sensitive groups in modern society—individuals who sell and buy sex in cyberspace in the form of compensated dating. The case elaborates the research processes from collecting data through cyber-ethnography to off-line participant observations, and in-depth interviews. It sheds light on the ways of accessing socially marginalized groups and the practical challenges that a researcher may face during the process. It also addresses how the problems of ethical issues, stigmatization, reciprocity, safety, and emotional burdens on the part of the researcher, which arise at different stages of the research process, inevitably shape the research methodology.

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