Understanding the interactions between people, computer-mediated communication, and online life requires that researchers appropriate a set of methodological tools that would be best suited for capturing and analyzing the phenomenon. However, these tools are not limited to relevant technological forms of data collections and analysis programs; it also includes relevant theoretical frameworks for researchers to use when studying these interactions. In this article, the author proposes activity theory as an underused, but powerful, conceptual tool for qualitative researchers to use when studying digital life. The author first provides a synopsis of activity theory, explains why it fits well with both digital studies and qualitative research, and applies activity theory to understanding an online community. This article is meant to be a starting point for qualitative researchers interested in finding a new conceptual framework to holistically study the nexus of people, technology, and community online.
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