This paper addresses the challenges of conducting theological ethnographic fieldwork during COVID-19, and proposes a solution of incorporating qualitative secondary data from online databases. The author draws from her experience in conducting her doctoral research in Hong Kong to explore the issues of whether ethnographic fieldwork has to be in a physical space, and how qualitative secondary data from online databases can be used. The study employs a methodology in which lived theology informs and shapes written theology. This paper asks whether being physically present in a field site is still necessary for conducting ethnographic fieldwork, since the pandemic has shifted much of human interactions online. The author argues that physically being in a field site is still necessary to build rapport with the community. This paper also considers the use of existing qualitative secondary data in conducting ethnographic field research. The author sees using qualitative secondary data as more than a way to overcome obstacles set by pandemic restrictions. Researchers who can access under-used data sets can triangulate with their primary data to give stronger support to their arguments.


Copyright (c) 2022 Ann Gillian Chu. This work has been made available online in the St Andrews Repository in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at: https://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/SAEE/article/view/2436

Cite as

Chu, A. 2022, 'Digital research and COVID-19: an argument for using both primary and qualitative secondary data in a Hong Kong ethnography', Ethnographic Encounters, 12(1), pp. 14-21. http://hdl.handle.net/10023/25468

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 16 June 2022
Was this page helpful?