Christine Hine

Dr Christine Hine

Reader in Sociology
+44 (0)1483 686986
05 AD 03


University roles and responsibilities

  • Chair, University Ethics Committee

In the media

Media Contacts

Contact the press team


Phone: +44 (0)1483 684380 / 688914 / 684378
Out-of-hours: +44 (0)7773 479911
Senate House, University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH


Research interests


Postgraduate research supervision

My publications


Hine C (2015) Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, Embodied and Everyday, Bloomsbury
The internet has become embedded into our daily lives, no longer an esoteric phenomenon, but instead an unremarkable way of carrying out our interactions with one another. Online and offline are interwoven in everyday experience. Using the internet has become accepted as a way of being present in the world, rather than a means of accessing some discrete virtual domain. Ethnographers of these contemporary Internet-infused societies consequently find themselves facing serious methodological dilemmas: where should they go, what should they do there and how can they acquire robust knowledge about what people do in, through and with the internet?This book presents an overview of the challenges faced by ethnographers who wish to understand activities that involve the internet. Suitable for both new and experienced ethnographers, it explores both methodological principles and practical strategies for coming to terms with the definition of field sites, the connections between online and offline and the changing nature of embodied experience. Examples are drawn from a wide range of settings, including ethnographies of scientific institutions, television, social media and locally based gift-giving networks. - See more at:…
Hine C (2013) Virtual Research Methods (Four Volume Set), Sage Publications Limited
The new social contexts formed via the Internet, and the new forms of data made available by the increasing use of diverse forms of computer mediated communication, have challenged researchers to develop approaches which do them justice. At the same time, there has been concern that established principles should be preserved, and that the connection between virtual research methods and more conventional research approaches should not be rejected out of hand. Despite a number of handbooks and textbooks published in recent years there is still a dearth of authoritative works which offer comprehensive coverage of the virtual research methods available to social researchers. In particular, there is none which thoroughly explores the full range of virtual research methods and their antecedents, and which explores the methodological and epistemological ramifications of their development. This multivolume reference collection fills this gap.

The collection covers perspectives on the Internet as a social space; research models for the Internet and the skills, techniques and approaches needed to conduct research in a virtual environment; innovations in the research process and reflections on these innovations; and the ethical considerations to take into account when doing research on the Internet.

Hine C (2006) Databases as scientific instruments and their role in the ordering of scientific work, SOCIAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE 36 (2) pp. 269-298 SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
Hine C (2010) Reviewed work(s): Sex Discrimination and Law Firm Culture on the Internet: Lawyers at the Information Age Watercooler. By Amanda K. Baumle. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Pp. x+197.

Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Lab and Second Life. By Thomas M. Malaby. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2009. Pp. x+165. $24.95.,

American Journal of Sociology 116 (2) pp. 719-721 University of Chicago Press
Hine C (2011) Towards ethnography of television on the internet: A mobile strategy for exploring mundane interpretive activities, Media Culture Society 33 (4) pp. 567-582 Sage Publications
This article aims to expand on the currently popular practice of conducting ethnographic studies of individual online fan groups to find other ways of using the internet ethnographically for television studies. The example of the Antiques Roadshow is used to explore a strategy for ethnographic attention to the diversity of mundane engagements with a particular television text via the internet. The development of this strategy draws on recent thinking on the constitution of ethnographic field sites, focusing on conceptualization of the field as a made object, and development of multi-sited approaches as appropriate forms of engagement with contemporary culture. This strategy also builds on recent debates about the significance of ?found? digital data for social research. Potential problems with this approach include loss of depth and contextualizing information, and the risk of only focusing on that data which is easily found by dominant search engines. These problems can be offset to some extent by increased focus on reflexivity, and by allowing the field site to spill out beyond the internet as the ethnographer finds it necessary and useful in order to explore particular practices of meaning-making.
Hine C (2010) Review of Nalita James and Hugh Busher, Online Interviewing. London: Sage, 2009.161 pp. ISBN 9781412945318 (hb) ISBN 9791412945325 (pbk), Qualitative Research 10 (4) pp. 502-504 Sage Publications Ltd.
Hine C (2012) Headlice eradication as everyday engagement with science: an analysis of online parenting discussions, Public Understanding of Science Sage
This paper focuses on the way in which people deploy scientific knowledge alongside other resources in everyday interactions. In the UK headlice are common amongst schoolchildren, and treatment is viewed as a parental responsibility. Choice between treatment options lies with individual parents, with official guidance giving no clear steer. In the face of this combination of responsibility and uncertainty, users of an online parenting forum justify their actions using a variety of resources, including claims to scientific knowledge of both headlice and the action of various treatments, but also drawing on the authority of having direct experience, trust in brand-named products and generalised suspicion of ?chemical? treatments. These discussions occasion expression of knowledge as part of portraying oneself as a responsible parent, and thus while they do not necessarily represent public knowledge about science more generally, they do offer a useful site to explore what people do with science.
Hine C, Snee H, Morey Y, Roberts S, Watson H (2015) Digital Methods for Social Science: An Interdisciplinary Guide to Research Innovation, Palgrave Macmillan
Social science research requires methods that are responsive to and congruent with contemporary social formations. Digital technologies present a challenge to which social researchers must rise, and in turn offer the chance to access, generate and analyse new information in new ways and address new research questions.

In response to this challenge, this interdisciplinary collection considers the quantitative and qualitative analysis of social media, addressing the contemporary concern with 'big data' but also the rich or 'thick data' available. It provides examples of research that has sought to explore digital methods through comparing and combining these with 'offline' or traditional approaches, and presents case studies that are both innovative in their use of new, existing and combined methods but also question the nature of innovation. It also develops some of the key challenges in mainstreaming digital methods, including debates in educational research, research with young people, and the ethical issues that digital and social researchers face.

Hine C (2012) Tales from Facebook, SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW 60 (1) pp. 180-182 WILEY-BLACKWELL
Hine C (2005) Internet research and the sociology of cyber-social-scientific knowledge, INFORMATION SOCIETY 21 (4) pp. 239-248 TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC
Hine C (2012) The Internet. Understanding Qualitative Research., Oxford University Press
As use of the Internet has become increasingly widespread, the Internet has also become a natural site for qualitative research. New researchable populations emerge, and illuminating discussions on every conceivable topic have become accessible to researchers. The Internet also presents many challenges, however, raising the questions of how to develop ethical and achievable research projects, and how to present findings to the widest possible audience.

This book focuses on the process of writing qualitative Internet research, from the construction of the initial proposal to the preparation of different types of research reports, including conventional dissertations and more innovative media forms. Covering ethnographic, interview-based, and documentary analysis, The Internet offers clear guidance on the challenges and opportunities posed by the application of these approaches to Internet settings, drawing on a wide array of published examples and rooting its advice in the established principles of qualitative research. The author emphasizes the importance of reflexivity and developing awareness of the various genres of qualitative writing, together with building research reports that are significant as mainstream social research.

Although the emphasis of this book is on qualitative research, it also draws on quantitative research techniques, since the sheer wealth of data available on the Internet prompts consideration of new ways of visualizing and summarizing data. The Internet also explores initiatives by Internet researchers to make use of new media technologies for analyzing and presenting their research, and to allow for new forms of interaction with research participants and audiences.

Hine C (2007) Connective ethnography for the exploration of e-science, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2) pp. 284-300
E-science comprises diverse sites, connected in complex and heterogeneous ways. While ethnography is well established as a way of exploring the detail of the knowledge production process, some strategic adaptations are prompted by this spatial complexity of e-science. This article describes a study that focused on the biological discipline of systematics, exploring the ways in which use of a variety of information and communication technologies has become a routine part of disciplinary practice. The ethnography combined observation and interviews within systematics institutions with mailing list participation, exploration of web landscapes, and analysis of expectations around information and communications technologies as portrayed in policy documents. Exploring connections among these different activities offers a means of understanding multiple dimensions of e-science as a focus of practice and policy. It is important when studying e-science to engage critically with claims about the transformative capacity of new technologies and to adopt methodologies that remain agnostic in the face of such claims: A connective approach to ethnography offers considerable promise in this regard. © 2007 International Communication Association.
Hine C (2008) The internet and research methods, Sage
Hine C (2007) Multi-sited ethnography as a middle range methodology for contemporary STS, SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY & HUMAN VALUES 32 (6) pp. 652-671 SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC
Hine C (2008) Overview: virtual ethnography: modes, varieties, affordances, Sage
Hine C (2004) Social research methods and the Internet: A thematic review, SOCIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ONLINE 9 (2) SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
Hine C (2008) Internet research as emergent practice, Guilford Publications.
Hine C (2008) How can qualitative internet researchers define the boundaries of their projects?, Sage
Hine C (2008) Systematics as cyberscience: Computers, Change, and Continuity in Science, The MIT Press
The use of information and communication technology in scientific research has been hailed as the means to a new larger-scale, more efficient, and cost-effective science. But although scientists increasingly use computers in their work and institutions have made massive investments in technology, we still have little idea how computing affects the way scientists work and the kind of knowledge they produce. In Systematics as Cyberscience, Christine Hine explores these questions by examining the developing use of information and communication technology in one discipline, systematics (which focuses on the classification and naming of organisms and exploration of evolutionary relationships). Her sociological study of the ways that biologists working in this field have engaged with new technology is an account of how one of the oldest branches of science transformed itself into one of the newest and became a cyberscience.

Combining an ethnographic approach with historical review and textual analysis, Hine investigates the emergence of a virtual culture in systematics and how that new culture is entwined with the field's existing practices and priorities. Hine examines the policy perspective on technological change, the material culture of systematics (and how the virtual culture aligns with it), communication practices with new technology, and the complex dynamics of change and continuity on the institutional level. New technologies have stimulated reflection on the future of systematics and prompted calls for radical transformation, but the outcomes are thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the discipline. Hine argues that to understand the impact of information and communication technology in science we need to take account of the many complex and conflicting pressures that contemporary scientists navigate. The results of technological developments are rarely unambiguous gains in efficiency, and are highly discipline-specific.

Hine C (2012) The formation of conventions for Internet activities., 12 pp. 257-274 Cambridge University Press
Hine C (2008) Virtual ethnography,
Hine C (2012) The emergent qualities of digital specimen images in biology, Information, Communication and Society Taylor & Francis
Whilst digital technologies are often popularly portrayed as inherently different from their material counterparts, recent research has accentuated continuities between the two. Research on the material aspects of digital technologies has emphasised that both material and digital technologies are embedded in practice and acquire their meaning in context. This is particularly so in science, where research in science and technology studies has illuminated the contextual interpretation of representations and their contingent manifestation through embedding in specific sociotechnical configurations. The current paper explores how digital technologies are experienced in a specific field of science, biological systematics. Email accounts were solicited from biologists who have been working with digital images of the biological specimens conventionally used in work on the classification and naming of organisms. Thematic analysis of the interviews shows that qualities of digital images were highly contextual, often defined in dialogue with their material counterparts which are also defined in fluid and contextual fashion. Discussing the use of digital specimen images involved distinctions between different forms of work and different organisms being studied and referenced the varied institutional and geographic positioning of respondents. The introduction of digital images offered the possibility of new sociotechnical configurations emerging and to some extent realised the aspirations of digitization projects to enable new forms of distributed working. This was, however, a qualified success restricted to only some aspects of the systematists? work.
Rufas A, Hine C (2018) Everyday connections between online and offline: Imagining others and constructing community through local online initiatives, New Media and Society SAGE Publications
Many local online platforms for people to give away or sell items have arisen in recent years. While some research has analysed modes of consumption emerging in such sites, there has been little exploration of the nature of the contact between local residents that these sites occasion and their implications for local sense of community. This paper analyses interviews with users of local online platforms for giving and selling items within one town in south-east England, identifying judgments that users make about one another and exploring the connections that are made between online and offline. Imagining other users and projecting social norms onto them emerges as important in making transactions meaningful. Users also often imagine social difference and make judgments that reproduce socio-economic stereotypes. Usage is portrayed as a positive experience enhancing users? views of local community in a general sense, but shows limited tendencies to overcome existing social divisions.