Online/Offline Reality: Using Online Ethnography and Visual Research Methods to Explore Acts of Visual Exclusion

Bratchford, Gary (2018) Online/Offline Reality: Using Online Ethnography and Visual Research Methods to Explore Acts of Visual Exclusion. In: Gentrification around the World: Gentrifiers and the Displaced. Routledge, New York. (Submitted)

There is a more recent version of this item available.

Full text not available from this repository.

Official URL:


The contemporary visual analysis of urban space reveals a great deal, specifically when the process is repeated over time. Longitudinal studies carried out in particular sites or with specific communities help to better frame our understanding of an environment. These long-term investments enable researchers to collect data, which might not be immediately noticed, allowing for connections in spatial, social and cultural practices to be drawn out, becoming visible over weeks, months or years depending on the scale of the project. Moreover, these studies are useful data-sets when a space succumbs to dramatic social and economic change.

Focusing on the rapidly gentrified inner-city residential areas of Miles Platting and Ancoats in Manchester, UK, this paper outlines a qualitative approach to ethno-spatial research that explores how future stakeholders shape, present and visually exclude aspects of an environment in order to create their own utopic narratives. Using my own ‘researcher-produced-images’ (Pauwels, 2008) that form part of a more extensive photographic survey (Krase and Shortell, 2014), I will examine through comparison, how users of a popular online forum of soon-be homeowners actively exclude the existing and dilapidated inner city housing stock that surrounds their own future residence.

Through regular visits to the construction site, forum-users/homeowners actively document and upload the on-going development of the area. Consistently uploading tightly framed shots of their future house or street, each user engages in a form of visual exclusion. By doing so, I argue that each user enacts a form of self-induced scotoma to the community already present.

Available Versions of this Item

Repository Staff Only: item control page