N. Baptista


Framed by the philosophy of critical realism, this methodological article proposes a research design involving a case-study approach that combines netnography with social network analysis to study consumer behavior and social interactions in online communities. This research strategy holds to a critical realist stratified emergent ontology, in which the empirical domain, comprising the experiences and perceptions of consumers, is qualitatively analyzed through a form of ethnography adapted to the online environment. The actual domain is explored through a quantitative method based on graph theory that investigates structure and agency processes by analyzing the patterns of social interaction. It is argued that this dualist approach allows researchers to inquire into the deepest level of reality or the real domain and to focus on structures and generative mechanisms as objects of inquiry. The philosophical reasoning for combining netnography and social network analysis is discussed as well as the quality of the research work in terms of reliability, validity, and potential for generalization.


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netnography, social network analysis, case study, critical realism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejmms.v7i4.1388


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