WhatsApp groups in social research: New opportunities for fieldwork communication and management
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Jailobaev, T., Jailobaeva, K., Baialieva, M., Baialieva, G. & Asilbekova, G. (2021) WhatsApp groups in social research: New opportunities for fieldwork communication and management. Bulletin of Sociological Methodology, 149(1), pp. 60-82.
WhatsApp is a popular platform primarily for informal communication. It has 1.5 billion users worldwide. Though there are increasing numbers of studies looking at the use of WhatsApp in various formal settings, its use in social research remains under-studied. We have used WhatsApp in several research projects. In this article, we analyse our use of WhatsApp within two studies conducted in 2019. We analysed the content of messages and counted the messages sent by each member to our WhatsApp groups. We also analysed the feedback received from our research assistants on the use of WhatsApp groups in research. We show in this article that WhatsApp has created new opportunities for better communication and management of fieldwork to meet a tight schedule and that this improved the overall quality of the project. We offer lessons learned for improving the use of WhatsApp in research processes.