16 The social origins and uses of media and communication research KIaus Bruhn jensen typesoftheory which s .a of the normotive of media .a description of media and communication research a socialinstitution as .a comparison of the main applications of media research in policy and politics .a discussion of both ethicsand logisticsas aspects of the relations between researchers,the academic community, respondents. wider socialcommunities. and THEORIES INTO PRACTICE reflexivity about the role of media in society.~ M k. br In offering their perspectives, researchers parti- a Ing pu IC cipate in a double hermeneutic (Giddens 1984): This final chapter returns to a number of the they reinterpret the lar theories (Furnham issues which motivate media students and re- 1988) of ordinary social agents, and feed searchers in the first place. Indeed, why study those reinterpretations back into society. For the media? (Silverstone 1999). Individual re- example, citizens lay theories of the category searchers are prompted, in part, by the same of public opinion vary widely (Herbst concerns which bring major economic and 1993), mar differ from those of political and political agents to focus on the afea. The mod- media theorists, but are, nevertheless, informed ern media are sources of power as well as over time by scientific theory, in part, through of meaning -mediated meanings can have media. In addition, programming decisions powerful social consequences. Accordingly, this by television executives have been centrally chapter examines the three-way relationship shaped by new research on the active audience between the media, research, and the rest of the (Eastman 1998). social system. Media studies, like their object of Alvesson and Skoldberg (2000: 248) have analysis, originate from a particular social and gone on to suggest several additional types of historical setting. Part of the relevance of media hermeneutics. For instance, a triple hermeneu- doubleand studies is tha:t they mar contribute to the social tics would be performed by critical theory with trip!ehermen- eutlcs conditions under which communication will the specific aim of exposing and ending rela- take place in the future. tions of social dominance. Thegeneral point of Like the media themselves, then, university hermeneutics in this regard is that all social departments and other research organizations mar be understood theoretically as institu-. ..media research second-order as mstltutlon-to-thmk- tions-to-think-with, enabling (second-order) with -Chapter 1, p. 6-
prac isash info byd genethe con like, and how byins one earl Lew Not (Gre com def wo thin can and part type agenLev ofjec theo the ofnu wha the con foun the me 199 19) thro anm -as Ain dis isco bep don Aspo fur ofth ispro asfr theopra asaint fiel Ku fro an atrIn go rel ch Itqu held als,bys legis gen diffe exh inte wit pro the pubW oth me we as po -th theo res ma inpla Havprac thou mat ca bo so usbo en of cho throre wit an m be he be in to a p to sp d re a al q st pe m to th mtp th de oí p iss in pl a k - n e 1 their insti publmed findi Pub ineo aca setas weas re pr274 Saciararigins and uses af research know how isAp only pracone way intob socia avaiofun inter and ma thefie know forqu soc pra opepub whio is7- proje Toob mak The stitu mar term On parth notc only toqu hav stud havecon resu kep awa publ lO rO byo res pub tothyp inte con beus larg gene as oris sm reprspe dom be inym eith orpro thefi longthe histsho cen isoun med bus tha but from any sig foror com reaianO orin (20 orsc opp fto tan findan ex ofn ac ha tou 1le areSc will tow statyp of tb ofo geth eff sy m h th m ado M th Th te sta abc n cth ob ut m Angm exte medcate ento formoffao pub the.m grou ofwa rese itsme scie met tices Whi pub done form rem clej anta exa asno wel to.m asseas.d adv thenInD ItS aan nec auna impa oth ofaf how ord pres and ap futu pra mse jou IIed ...hM bso- kear proc mgs 00to spop ascu wed ase mo ,and mfr legl the scle torig tion, cons rese -inc .tmums othe cha stud and are we con adv re- diff rela oth tutio asIW bo toro soc ins allie ex to releatb ra ofte ..or itfIrem isse Imp con bo ..av so no taa arrop .pu on rep ofo m(p an co of em eo tb 7h If a in lca ee sa aih an fo dfr lat .re ce e n tth hth us e . o t ofou com...a quen thel rese actl fidriv Follo aorm dee rntlo owi fIoR sev theo this cha andelab norm subs med nan ..fOp Iof the theo whi fue tran and 3of co ofkn mo whic am still mo pora rese next note con Anth ove itspr mai aca andrul cur me rese as anlog inspo sta com IC se to b tb op to in the prawo na p its in 2 h N I . th II b b . d .-.J d I f h th d . .. . varie the inte cullap bo no h ..way or ano er, y I ea s o ow e me la h f o o . h d f ... d .. b bl o .
Theories into practice 275 ANALYSISBOX 16.1 THE SIGNSOF SCIENCE Media and communication researchers reir on varied means of representation and expression in arder to arrive at an understandingof the empirical field themselves, share findings and issues to with colleagues,and to present their studies to an interested publicoWhile other sections of this chapter consider both different ways of making public and the relevant audiences,the purpose of this brief element is to reflect on the signs of science -the concrete means of communicat- ing research.This can be an important way of keeping research self-reflexive,scientifically as well as socially.As noted, for instante, in the discussion of rhetoric in Chapter 2, signs and numbers are never innocent, but carry implicit premises (see further Barrow 1992). Models and other means of display have been integral to the development of media studies (for additional referentes on scientific illustration, see Lee and Mandelbaum 1999; McQuail and Windahl 1993;Shore 1998).Whereas tables and figures mar be associatedspecificallywith quan- titative traditions of research,Chapter 14 noted how visual display,coding, and modeling are also an important part of qualitative analysis. Throughout this volume, a number of verbal,mathematical,and graphic forms have been used to communicate different points. In review,so me of the main types mar be described as follows: .literature reviews and theoretical arguments in all chapters in verbaldiscourse; .conceptual models of a partían of the field, as represented in either graphic displays(e.g., Figure S.2) or in multiple-field matrices(e.g.,Figure7.2); .analytical examples (e.g.,the analysisboxes,such as Box 14.1),employing prose, graphic displays,and imagesto represent the object of analysisand aspects of the analytical process (e.g.,Chapter 8 on The Big S/eep); .tables summarizing findings in terms of a numericaldistribution(e.g., Table 13.1); .scattergram, indicating correlations between data elements concerning,for instance,opinions and media preferentes (Figure 9.4); .time line,locating shifting technologies and institutions of communication in relation to each other (Figure 2. 1). (Other common formats of presentation include bar charts, histograms,line graphs,and pie charts. (See further Deacon et al. 1999:93-98.»4 Everyday theory. Finally, the publics inter- economic sector, and a political institution inaction with media as consumers, citizens, and, their own right, the technological media haveoccasionally, sources of information is guided generated a large proportion of commerciallyby a number of everyday or cornmon-sense motivated as well as socially concerned re-notions of what media are, how they opera te, search. From its initiation, the field was part andand in whose interests. parcel of the emergente by the 1930s of what Beniger (1986) termed the control society -the control Other chapters in this volume have emphasized characterized by a greatly intensified surveil- societythe scientific theories which constitute the aca- lance of society, both by individuals through thedemic media field. The professional and every- media, and by private as well as public agenciesdar theories that enter into media production through, for example, market research andand reception have also, in part, beenaddressed. opinion polling. Several of the early milestonesThis chapter shifts the emphasis toward norma- of media research~ were produced in responsetive theory, examining, as well, its interrelations to perceived social problems (e.g., violence,particularly with scientific theory. Being a strategic cultural reSource,a major ..milestones mediaresearch of -Chapter 10,p. 158
276 Social origins and uses of research propaganda) which were associated with the allowed to disseminate information on any media as well as with the new urban and inter- social scale, being subject, as well, to censor- national realities embedding them -a different ship, and their audiences were just that -recip- culture of time and space (Kern 1983). ients of messages from political and religious The mediatization of (Western) societies is authorities who knew better. While rarely perhaps best understood as one element of the advocated as such, being the unspoken doxa of processes of bureaucratization and rationaliza- the medieval, feudal order, the authoritarian tion that were then taking place as aspects of theory provided the contrast against which modernization in politics and economy. ~ A key most later theori~s defined themselves. role of mediabecame that of facilitating the 2 L ob o h lo 1 II b oo l d O. f o o I I ertarlan t eory. I era t eory t was b I h oyera sta Y anlit mtegratlon o mcreasmg y h. h . h lo o f b h I o I C o b Th w IC , m t e areas o ot po ItlCS an d com- comp ex socia systems. UI onOf e nor- o o o o o o. .murncatlon, challenged authorltarlan models. matlve theorles provlded a framework of Ideas L Ob lo o f d h I h ° d O o o I era Ism m orme t e arger s I ft f rom tra d - an Ideals for addressmg Issues of ~oclal power, o o o o I d o o d lo o I d I I Itlonal to modern social structures, as eplto- persona o I entlty, an po Itlca an cu tura o d o h bl o h ~ N I h o l . d o d o o mlze m t e pu IC sp ere. ~ ot on y were rlg ts m re atlon to me late commurncatlon. h d fi d d o h I o umans e ne as en s m t emse ves, Wlt h certain inalienable political, economic, and cul- NORMATIVE THEORIES tural rights; they were al so conceived as ratio- o o o. nal animals with the ability collectively to The entlre set of normatlve theorles Illustrates d fi d d O. h gh o O o fy ° h od oh I ho o e ne an a mmlster suc rl ts. ne urn mg ow leas Wlt a ong Istory are sometlmes b ol o d f o I ho o I metaphor became the marketplace of ideas, mo I Ize or partlcu ar Istorlca purposes. o C . f o h o d f suggestlng that the market for goods and ertam o t elr constltuents ate rom o o .o R o d E l h . od I d servlces would also empower mdlvlduals to . enalssance d m ee , d f rom an h S t e n Ig tenment ocratlc o d o I la ogue I ea s as a means an , promote o thelr o politlcal o interests and cultural f o gh o d f d o h o II Ideals through the press (or to establish one o true msl t, an o omg w at IS mora y o d H h o h o themselves). The resultmg competition of ideas, goo. owever, t e normatlve t eorles were o I d ofi II h d o fi Id o presumably, would benefit society as such. artlcu ate specI ca y to t e me la e m the context of the Cold War. AIso in this emerg- 3 Totalitarian theory. The occasion for formu- ing academic field, the period pitted differ- lating the normative theories, as noted above, ent models of society against each other. The was the Cold War, specifically the implementa- classic publication identified tour theories, tion of a totalitarian or communist theory of the with special reference to the printed press press in a number of countries following World (Siebert et al. 1956): War 11. The distinction between totalitarian and authoritarian theory (and their relation to 1 Authoritarian theory. A traditional model of fascism during the 1930s) can be, and has publicity took for granted a social and religious been, debated. Still, it was characteristic that the cosmology which mar be described as a central control of communist regimes over pyramid or chain of being. ~ Here, everything media was officially conceived as a means of had its righful place, and information tIowed fundamentally restructuring society, rather than top-down from the monarch, being the repre- preserving any social pyramid. Centralized sentative of divine authority on earth. Far from control, moreover, equaled state or government beinga means of oppression, the pyramid could control over all means of production, whether be understood as a framework that enabled it was meaning or material goods being pro- individuals to tIourish on the road to their duced. Following the breakup of communist destiny. Only especially reliable persons were systems in Europe from 1989, in the Peoples Republic of China the development of new journalistic practices still takes place within a ..modernization -Chapter 11, p. 143 ..the great chain oí being -Chapter 2, p. 21 ..the public sphere-Chapter 1, p. 7
Normative theories 277 relatively fixed political-economic system (e.g., to gain a hearing in world media, and to deter- Pan 2000). mine the shape of their own media systems. 4 Socla o1 responsl ob Iol ley t h eory. o A s h ° ft I o m Debate was further o complicated by the fact that o references to Ideals such as free flow and self- emphasis, from liberalldeals toward an under- d o o, do stan mg o f t he press an d ot her me d la as o etermmatlon con Id o o o serve as fronts, elt her f or o o o economlc expanslomsm or for governments trustees or representatlves of the publlc, has o o taken place in the Western world partlcularly promotlng t hemse1 ves abroa d and repressmg o h o .o .o. 1945. For one thmg, the growmg con- smce t elr Cltlzens at hame. A s suggeste b y t he d k f h M B .d (1980) C o. ..wor centration and conglomeratlon of the media o o t e ac n e ornrnlSSlon, t he o. " Issues have proven d Io cu1 to f ormu 1 m any ffi t ate o sector mcreasmgly undercut any simple notlon h o o h .compre enslve normatlve t eory, but contlnue o of a free press. For another, some new media o. .o o to generate mternatlona 1 debate as we 11 as forros, especially radio and televlslon, at least o O" researc. h F or exampe, 1 Hus b an d (1996) has for a penod were lImlted m number for tech- . d d h . f .h b d o .mtro uce t h . e notlon o a ng t to e un er- t e rlg h t to nologlcal reasons. Furthermore, all d o h technologl- 1 o h o bl h be under- .stoo cal media require economlc resources and m t e mu tI-et mc pu IC sp ere. stood professional skills on a scale which promotes 6 Democratic-participant theory. Particularlylarge organizations and concentration gener- in the Western world, the 1960s witnessed aally. Whereas references to social responsibility second type of upheaval around media, associ- accordingly have been witnessed in several ated with the political mobilization and culturalmedia types, European public service broad- critique by anti-authoritarian movements.oo4 Oncasting represents a particularly elaborate and the one hand, the social responsibility of theinstitutionalized expression of social responsi- mainstream media, their political and culturalbility theory.oo4 diversity in practice, was challenged. On the other hand, information and communication Apart from the inherently controversial status technologies appeared to offer the means of a of normative theories, later commentators have novel forro of political as well as culturalnoted that the tour types fail to capture several democracy. Moving beyond the liberal anddevelopments in media over the past tour responsibility theories, democratic-participantdecades. In particular, media systems in the theory proposed steps toward ensuring publicdeveloping world and the growth of media involvement, by structural means and notforros with increased public participation -merely by individual initiative (Enzensbergerfrom local radio to the Internet -have led to 1972 ). It is this participatory ambitionthe formulation of two further positions (see which, in part, has fueled grass-roots mediaalso McQuaiI1983): (e.g., Downing 2000; Glessing 1970), and it continues to inform ideals regarding Internet 5 Developmenttheory.Inthecontextofdecol- communication (e.g., Rheingold 1994). onization, the 1960s witnessed intensifyingdebates about media in relation to the Third In continuing debate and research, severalWorld (while the other two worlds were con- additional varieties of normative theory havefronting each other in the Cold War). The issues been outlined (seeNerone 1995; Nordenstrengincluded an imbalance in the flow of news in the 1997), some of which are outgrowrhs or closeworld and the possible international as well as allies of scientific media theories, for example,national, local means of redressing ir. Attempts on intercultural or postcolonial issues.oo4at developing a comprehensive theory in this Broadly speaking, however, most normativeregard had to weigh conflicting interests -a (and many scientific) theories rodar emphasizegenerally desirable free flow of information inthe world versus the right of individual cultures ..anti-authoritarianmovements-Chapter 3, p. 56 ..intercultural andNorth-Southcommunicarion -..public service broadcasting 283 -p. Chapter11,p. 177 ~.~
~278 Social origins and uses of research either critical-reformist or pluralist-functional- Against this historical background, the four- ist criteria -a conflictual or consensual model plus-two normative theories remain relevant of society -in evaluating media performance. A points of reference by articulating political, related opposition between state and market economic, and cultural ideal s which still enter is commonly referred to in policy discussions of into contemporary public and policy debates. how to enSille the freedom of media. (On issues of justice, with largely unexamined Part of the difficulty of debating the real implications for media, see Rawls 1999.) conflicts and high stakes in the afea beyond The normative theories have been sup- simple oppositions has been the ambiguity of ported primarily by abstract reasoning andfrom negative the concept of freedom in sociopolitical and, principled argumento Nevertheless, they amount to.~ositive later, communication theory. Different accounts to strongly held beliefs on which whole societies defimtlonsof .. freedomtend to assume either a negative defirntion have beenprepared to act, to use pragmatlst ter- (freedom (rom state interference in communi- minology (Joas 1993), and, indeed, to plan cation) or a positive definition (freedom to their entire system of communication. A central demand certain media provisions as a civic role of media research, approximately since the right). Habermas (1989 ) traced this 1956 statement of the normative theories, has ambiguity to shifting notions of how state or been to differentiate and strengthen the social government agencies should interact with bases of reasoning, argument, and action in various sectors of economic and other social relation to the media. Media and cornmunica- life. The modero period was inaugurated by tion research has developed at the crossroads of the negative definition of freedom, as the new several social sectors and intellectual currents. middle classes asserted their political and eco- nomic rights vis-a-vis the state. However, a pos- MEDIA RESEARCH AS A SOCIAL itive redefinition of rights, involving economic INSTITUTION regulation and social services along Keynes- ian principies, followed from world crises in l t e1 tua I cuIt ures , .n ,ec the late nineteenthcentury and especlallythe 1930s. It was this reorganization of the society- A modero locus classicusregarding the relation- state nexus which presumably preserved the ship between theory and practice (Lobkowicz larger system of industrial capitalism and repre- 1967) -between knowing that something is the sentative government. case and knowing how to act accordingly -was One should constantly keep in mind that cur- the statement by Karl Marx in bis Theses on rent debates about normative mediatheory take Peuerbach (1845), that The philosophers have place in the context of highly regulated political only interpreted theworld, in various ways; the economies -at least in the Western world, and point, however, is to change it. Whether or not despite measures of deregulation particulatly individual scholars have drawn either revolu- since the 1980s. Any reference to a negative tionary or reformist consequences from such a def1nition of media freedom (less state interfer- view, it is undeniable that, at the institutional ence, more freedom of expression) is likely to level, research participates in actively shaping serve rhetorical, not analytical purposes. The and maintaining modero societies in countless substancial point of contention is the particular ways. This has been evident not least within forms in which the regulation of technologically science and technology during the twentieth mediated cornmunication will take place -from century (for an overview see Biagioli 1999). nacional laws affecting film production to the In a structural sense, then, basic research basic and internacional assignment of Internet domain also eventually comes to be~. Compared, applied ." names. Also in the future, the questlons that however, to a wldespread rnneteenth-century researc h media researchers will be asked to study and notion of sciences as means of both material comment on involve conflicts and compromises and cultural progress, much twentieth-century regarding who will benefit most from the de research found itself struggling to come to (acto positive definition of social freedom. terms with its sense of a mission. The complic- J !
~280 Social origins and uses of research RESOURCE BOX 16.1 HISTORIES MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION OF RESEARCH AS A FIELD ayer the past decade,more historical accounts of the development of media studies have begun ) to appear.Presumably, this follows, in part, from the fact that media and communication research is now an established institution in society and a relatively mature field of inquiry. The second generation of researchers, now occupying university chairs, mar also perceive a need to revisit and reassesstheir roots, partir in response to convergence. At one level, the development of the field is the outcome of interventions from the social sci- ences and the humanities,as traced in Chapters 2 and 3, in response to the central raje of media in modem societies. At a more specific level, different national cultures -in universities, in poli- tics, and in the media themselves-have produced a range of forms in which research and teach- ing are organized.The references in Box 11.1 cover some of these aspects. Given its longer history as well as its centrality and resources generally,the North American research community has produced some of the more elaborate historical accounts (e.g.,Oelia 1987).At the same time, different accounts of the U.S. experience bear witness to quite different conceptions of both historiography and politics. As such, they are instructive, not only regarding controversial issues within U.S. research, but also for the writing of histories of the field else- where. The following references are indicative, both of relatively more administrative or critical perspectives,and of their different sources in the history of ideas: .Hardt 1992 -a monograph with review and discussion,emphasizingcritical and interpretive aspects of U.S. communication studies,and linking these to pragmatismand the wider intellectual history of the U.S.A. .Oennis and Wartella 1996-an edited collection with contributions from several of the central figures of U.S. research,including accounts of its roots in Europe and in Chicago School sociology.In a review, Hardt (1999) found that this remembered history by key individuals served more as a professional position statement than as an analytical historiography,implying that it mar be aWhig history written from the still largely functionalist perspective of the victors. .Schramm 1997 -a retrospective account by the researcher who is normally considered to be the central figure in institutionalizing communication studies in the U.S.A.,supplemented with perspectives supporting this conclusion, by StevenM. Chaffee and Everett M. Rogers. Hardt (1999), in his turn, argued that Wilbur Schramm had failed to forge a discipline, and that insteadmass communication research was legitimated intellectually by the centrality of communication in social theory and cultural studies (p. 239). Importantly, these interests are different in kind kinds of media research, and to clarify issues of from, albeit related to, researchers personal knowledge and power which have come to the convictions and questions of how research is tole in recent decades. funded or situated institutionally. The category The concept was formulated as such by of knowledge interests provides a framework Habermas (1971 ), who distinguished for examining the relationship between social three types of knowledge interest. Each is asso- ends and scientific means in a more nuanced ciated with the characteristic subject matters fashion than is often the case, for example, in and social functions of three faculties of study: accounts simply contrasting commercial and academic research. Knowledge interests begin 1 Control through prediction. In the case of to address the relative autonomy of different natural sciences, a central purpose of inquiry is I
Media research as a social institution 281to be able to plan future activities in the material living conditions that are not oftheir own mak-world, in detail and with confidenceoPredictions ing. (Media example: Participatory models ofand hypotheses make for human intervention communication.)into nature under controlled circumstances.By developing and accumulating criteria for These three forms of knowledge interestanticipating physical, chemical, and biological must be understood as ideal types that are sub-phenomena and processes,the modero sciences ject to variation and combination in scientifichave mastered the natural environment to an practice. However, Habermas (1971 )unprecedented degreeoThis has facilitated the further argued that the different methodological human management of resources, time, and and theoretical requirements do not transferspace as well as extensive social planning, well from one domain of research to another.notably in agriculture and industrial production. In particular, he concluded that the emancipa-(Media example: Quantitative surveys predict- tory potential of social sciencestends to be losting the preferences of audienceso) if one imports, and gives priority to, the techni-2 C ontemplatlve und erstandmg. I n t he h uman- " cal knowledge interest of the natural sciences. Th f 1 f d o ..e argument IS ami lar rom some me laItles, scholarshlP has revolved around cultural h h. h h d . d d.f f . h. h orms o expresslon w IC are su jecte to b. d researc WIC ., as eplcte au lence surveys .. l ... hr h .and televlslon meters as (quantltatlve) means ofcontemp atlon -mterpretatlon t oug mtro- .spectlon. A h . k f, est etlc wor s, or one, cou Id b e cuItura I contro I (e.g., An g 1991). I .. h o .t ISImportant to emp aslze t h at t he eI ementunderstood as ends m themselves that should ...o .. f crItique does not fo II ow f rom t he po l ItlcaI - .o HbeI analyzed . for thelr mherent meamng and. I f, hva ue. Istonca events, or anot er, mlg t ear h b . Ideologlcal attltude of the Individual researcher. Wh 1 . h .. .o I e a commltment to t e emanclpatlonwltness to unIversal, even eternal aspects of the f fi .. o .., .o specI c socloeconomlc groups WI11b e t he human condltlon, even If the rehglous overtones f l . h d II b d . I l .. h d" . typlca persona motlvatlon, t e Istmctlve f ea-o contemp atlon ave gra ua y een own- .., . 1 d B d ... h . ( )0 tures of cntlcal research are found m Its prac-p aye. y Issemmatmg t elr re mterpreta- ... l . d . h .... f 1tlons o cu ture an d h.. d Istory to a WI er pu IC bl tices, Its eplstemo ogles, an m t e mstltutlons ,. . o . ensurmg ItS relevance to the rest of SOCletyohumamstlc scholars carne to serve, not least, as A ., .o o competent CrIticaI stud y, tus, a dheres sys- hthe professlonal keepers of cultural tradltlono . II . I h d I . .o ..tematlca y to partlcu ar met o o oglcaI and(MedIa example: Quahtatlve textual studles ex- h . I h h I 00 ...t eorenca approaces t at are ley I to have kplormg media representanons of social reahty.) .. I C" I h. an emanclpatory potenna o finca researc IS3 Emancipation through critique. If the natllral also concerned with rese~rchable, rather thansciences procured the material and collective merely debatable or normative issues.bases of modero society, whereas the humanitiesaddressed the individuals life experiences, the , o .ec S t ors o f researc hsocial sclences were called upon to examInematerial as well as experiential, collective as well The different intellectual currents which mar beas individual conditions of sociallifeo While this summed up, for convenience, as knowledgeambiguous status is in evidence in the two para- interests are found to varying degrees in thedigms of media research,~ Habermas suggested social institutions and sectors that perform orthat social-scientific inquiry does have a distinc- reir on media research. From the early begin-tive knowledge interest, at least potentially, nings of the field, an awareness of the differentnamely emancipation. By performing a critique purposes of research has been reflected in itsof the prevailing forms of social organization, terminology. The classic distinction was intro-and by clarifying alternatives, the social sciences duced by Lazarsfeld (1941):can promote the emancipation of humans from .Administrative research refers to the kind of..two paradigms mediaresearch oí -Chapter 15, goal-oriented and instrumental studies whichp. 255 resolve specific issues, typically for the purpose
~282 Social originsand uses of research of planning somemedia production or activity. mental interests might narrow the theoretical Studiesin this vein solve little problems, gen-scope of projects, curtail their later uses,and, erally of a businesscharacter(p. 8). in the long term, undermine the intellectual .Critica! researchaddresses wider soci- the freedomof researchers choosetheir research to etal, cultural, and historical issuesof mediatedquestions and methods.Readersof the last.sen- communication, often in a reception perspec- tence of Lazarsfelds article mar have felt con- tive, from which the public interest mar be firmed that critical research was being assigned assessed. Here, studiestake up the generalrole the role of generating bright ideas to be of our media of communicationin the present exploited (financially and ideologically)in the social system(p. 9). administrative mainstream of research:there is here a type of approach which, if it were When Lazarsfeld (1941) describedthe critical included in the generalstream of communica- variety of research, did so, inpart, underthe tions research, he could contribute much in terms infIuence of the first generation of Frankfurt of challenging problems and new conceptstheFrankfurt School scholars who had fIed Nazi Germany useful in the interpretation of known, and in School the U.S.A. While highly suspiciousof the the searchfor new,data (Lazarsfeld1941: 16). for culture industry (Adorno and Horkheimer On closer examination, the t.wo varieties 1977 ) they encountered there, their exhibit similarities as well as differences,and responsewent beyond a normative rejection. have combined in various researchtraditions One of the points that theyintroducedto media and organizations.Both reir on qualitative as studies was an analytical, Kantian notion of well as quantitative methodologies.(The mar- critique that seeksto explicate the conditions ginalizing of qualitative studiesas preliminary of belief, which are themselves one of the con- pilots, perhapssurprisingly,seems more preva- ditions of the social status quo (Hammersley lent in academiccontexts.)In both cases, more- 1995: 30). By reflecting on the media as they over, projects mar be reactive or proactive, reactive and now exist, and by uncoveringalternatives,crit- evaluating what already is, or shaping what is proacti~e ical studies outline what might be. In this not retoCritical projectscanbe the most instru- researc regard, Lazarsfeld recognized the creative, mental of all, since they design researchques- theoreticalpotential of critical research. Haber- tions and methods, for example, to expose mas,who is normally seenas the main repre- inequalities in the availability of communica- sentativeof a secondgenerationof the Frank- tion resources,or to develop such resources. furt School,in bis turn specified critique as one Recently, researcherswithin cultural studies of severalknowledgeinterests. haveadvocated more focusedsocialusesof this When making the distinction bet.ween criti- tradition in policy contexts (Bennett1992),and cal and administrative research, Lazarsfeld a greaterreliance on quantitative evidenceas (1941) found that the t.wo types, largely syn- well (Lewis 1997). onymous in bis description with basic and .In all cases,researchprojectsand their find- applied research, could and should cross-fertil- ings should be assessed with somereferenceto ize. His own accomplishments, centeredin the their socialinfrastructure-their funding, organ- Bureauof Applied SocialResearch Columbia at ization, time trames, and anticipated uses - University,seemed suggest mucho addi- to as In over and above their theoretical models and tion to early milestonesin media research, he methodological approaches. This infrastructure and bis collaborators pioneeredseveralgeneral conditions the reflexivity which researchers approaches, from the panelmethodto focused mar exercise on behalf of themselves,their interviewing. Many critical researchers, how- colleaguesor clients, particular sociopolitical ever,including Europeanexpatriateswho, like constituencies, the public at large. Despite or Theodor Adorno, found a temporary borne in national and cultural variations, it is possible Bureauprojects,were highly unsympatheticto to identify certain main types of media research the implications of administrative research institutions, as displayedin Figure 16.1. (Delia 1987: 52). Commercialandother instru- A centraldivide separates private enterprise~
Media research as a social institution 283 Commercial University Independent Documentation ".". company department research institute center Funding ,.". Income from Public funding Commercial income Commercial income clients and/or public and/or public funding funding Organization of Management Autonomous Board of trustees Board of trustees research activity hierarchy researchers and management and management within hierarchy hierarchy collegial government Time trames Days to years Years to decades Days to decades Years to centuries Anticipated uses Strategic Description Descriptive as well Description and of results planning and and critique of as proactive documentation of product past and analyses media contents development present media and uses forms Examples Marketing Media studies Research bureaus Archives with sections; departments; and ad hoc centers; proprietary and/or Advertising Schools of Thinktanks public (museum) agencies; communication access ConsultanciesFigure 16.1 Types of media research organization and public service, also in the world of research. state and market and attracting clients from This is suggested by the first two types -uni- both sides of the divide. The fourth type -doc- versity departments and cornmercial companies. umentation centers -has more commonly been Although reliable measures of the relative size associated with historical, arts, and other of each of these main sectors are difficult to cal- humanistic archives than with empirical re- culate, it is safe to say that commercial projects search on contemporary culture and society outdistance academic ones in terms of both (although some film institutes have filled this financial resources and the number of single role). At present, such entities are gaining impor- studies. Any simple divide between public and tance, both as a strategic resource in media pro- private research, however, is complicated by the duction and planning, and as support for the fact that university departments, in many coun- affiliated research activities. ~ tries, increasingly depend on cornmercial spon- (It is worth adding that public service broad- sorship to fund their research. Furthermore, casting and public domain research represent commercial research is frequently subcon- comparable conceptions of the social organiza- tracted outside the media organization in ques- tion and dissemination of knowledge. In both tion, sometimes to academic institutions. The cases, knowledge is understood as a public research entities of public service media occupy good (Samuelson 1954), in relative autonomy an additional middle ground. from market forces. In the case of broadcasting, The third type -independent research it is this understanding that has beenchallenged institutes -has been a staple feature of media research since Lazarsfelds Bureau, avoiding some of the negative connotations of both ..museums archives mediaresearch 285 and for -p. ,,~ j
---284 Socia! origins and uses of research under the heading of deregulation (see, e.g., house as well as cornmissioned research to Blumler and Gurevitch 1995; Garnham and support their business. Studies address not only organizational Locksley 1991).) audiences, but also the internal development of co~muni- catlon In the end, it is the different time trames content and the strategic placement of the which, most of all, distinguish the social roles of organization in relation to competitors, regula- each type of research organization. Whereas tors, and the general public (e.g., Grunig 1992). commercial projects typically are scheduled , 2 Pu blIC pJannmg. c ampare d to t he specIfi c , for short-term Instrumental purposes, acadeffilc f d b po ICles o me la USlnesses, blIC po 1 de- 1, " pu , ICY studies mar suggest a course of actlon In the , 1 , h 1f k Ineates t e genera ramewor In w IC me la h h d . (very) long termo If research ISdefined surnmar- A 1 f fl f or med la " operate. typlca arena o In uence ily as the representatlon of reahty for a purpose, hers has b een commlsslon wor k 1 dIng state , , , researc ea the practlcal queStlon becomes when, where, and , d , . h h 1" 1 commissions h h , d Sh d 1 Into ecIslons Wlt In t e po Itlca system, as ow t IS purpose IS enacte. ort- an ong" , d b sometlmes supporte y specla11 f und ed y term purposes mar also be expressed In terms of dles. T exempl1fy most E uropean countnes , , , ,, stu 10 elther pohcy or pohtlcal uses of research. d unng t he 1980s and 1990 s wltnessed a great . deal of commission work and research regard- POllTICS VERSUS POllCY ing satellite and cable technologies and their implications for public service broadcasting. Policy contexts , , 3 Non-governmental orgamzatlons. Beyond Policies are codified plans of action. The impor- and between the business and state contexts, tance of policy in both public administration citizens groups, thinktanks, and other organi- and commercial companies is one structural zations regularly develop or advocate particu- consequence of increased complexity, internally lar media policies. They do so with a view not in modero organizations as well as in the only to legislative frameworks, but also to the larger social contexto Collective and coordi- role of media, for example, in the educational nated action requires deliberation and plan- system. In addition to commissioning research, ning, and, because of their scale and cost, the these organizations serve as audiences for polit- resulting policies further call for evaluation and ically motivated and socially concerned media adjustment. Both the nature of the deliberations studies. and the criteria of evaluation follow largely from predefined organizational goals. Accord- It is not by coincidence that the three policy ingly, policy research is focused within existing contexts correspond to elements in the domi- institutions, and on agendas ser by those insti- nant model of contemporary society, as laid out tutions. The arca has beengrowing since 1945, in Figure 1.3 -the spheres of private businesses, one key figure being the communication state agencies, and civil society. It is by engag- scholar, Harold D. Lasswell (e.g., Lerner and ing these institutions that research can address evaluationLasswell 1951). The expanding sector of eval- the structural conditions of meaning produc- researchuation research mar be understood as one sub- tion. It is in these main contexts, for better or variety of policy studies in this broad sense worse, that the future of mediated communi- (e.g., Partan 1990). carian is being shaped most concretely. From its inception, media research has con- tributed to planning and evaluating the medias P lt .. 01 Ica I processes performance. Because these uses are relatively familiar, they can be described more briefly A second ser of approaches to applying media than the following types. At least three policy research socially bracket present institutional contexts can be identified: agendas and look to the future. Compared to the delimited contexts of policy, these approaches 1 Business administration. Within private shift the emphasis toward less well-defined, enterprise, practically all media employ in- but potentially more far-reaching processes of i
Politics versus policy 285 change. (As in the case of policy contexts, both self-reflexivity of media, as they address issues qualitative and quantitative methodologies are such as political spin doctors or lifestyle of relevance for such political processes.) advertising. In a case such as the public jour- public By insisting on the autonomy of the research nalism movement in the U.S.A., a more ambi- journalism institution, and by resisting a hegemony of tious aim has been for research to support a other institutionallogics, much academic work reinvigoration of both the press and political mar be said to adopt a long-term strategy of participation (for an overview and references interchange with other social institutions. In see Haas 1999). some cases, the strategy entails the countering. o . f ofi lo o oh I o l oo I .MedIa educatlon. Beyond thelr own gradu- o specI c po Icles Wlt a ternatlve po Itlca o o F I do d .ate and undergraduate students, media and vlewpomts. or examp e, me la stu les mar o o o h h" dd k I d do commumcatlon researchers have contnbuted to expose t e I en or unac now e ge mterests .o .o o f oh oI lo o I the democratlzatlon (or relatlvlzatlon) of the o elt er commercla or government po Icles. n ho d d " d" d o cultural standards and texts of curricula at t IS regar, aca emlc me la an commumca- " o h f h 1 " most educatlonal levels. In addition, the field tlon researc ers carry on aspects o t e c aSSlC, . " I I oo I I f h o 11 0 o (M h " has been successful, m a number of countries, crItica ro e crItIca ro e o t e mte Igentsla ann elm" o , o o, , of t~e 1976 : 136-146). I~ argumgo the need for a component of medIa medIa Ilteracy,ntell,gentsla C (1991) h o d o d fi " 11 I hteracy m general education (Masterman orner as I entl e two mte ectua o o o o o o d" h " o II 1985; Messans 1994; Potter 1998). Thls IS m proJects m recent me la researc , orIgIna y o oh " . I o b "h I I splte of the fact that the exact purpose and Wlt m receptlon ana YSIS, ut Wlt equa re e- o. f h f d O h placement of medIa educatlon (as a separate vance or ot er afeas o stu y. n t e one " h d h fi Id h h b o d subJect or within other subjects) remain an , t e e as suc as een commltte "O" t E lo h d o I o h d debated. Wlth the mtrodUCtlon of computer- o n Ig tenment I ea s concermng t e emo- o" o o. bl " b o Ol O f bl o k 1d h pu IC cratlc accessl I Ity o pu IC now e ge t roug h supported learnmg, a redefimtlon of (medIa) ht- o o 1 0 kno led e vanous f actual genres. From propaganda re- wog " eracy IS agam IkeI Y to occur. proJect search to decoding studies of news, an import- .Museums and archives. As suggested in ant research question has been how well Figure 16.1, documentation centers constitute audiences are able to process mediated infor- an increasingly strategic resource for media mation, and to employ it in the political process. production as well as research. AIso from polit- On the other hand, the last couple of decades in ical and public perspectives, the preservation particular have witnessed both textual and and documentation of contemporary media audience research rehabilitating the value and pose important issues (Jensen 1993b). The popular relevance of popular culture, especially fiction point is not only to enable future scholars to culture genres. ( ) o d o ho o re wnte me la Istory, or to assesscontempo- proJect Compared to the policy contexts of rary research models and findings. Only if the research, its wider political arenas of influence breadth and depth of media, including their are centered around the public sphere as a everyday uses and audience experiences, remain forum of social reflexivity and intervention. In available and documented -alongside the high addition, the interventions of media research cultural forms that still reign supreme in address related institutions within, for instance, museums and archives (and among employed education and politics: archivists) -will coming generations have the possibility of assessingand learning from their .Public debate. Most generally and uncon- past, our presento The Payne Fund (Jowett et troversially, media research contributes to (and al. 1996) and Mass Observation (Richards and occasionally initiates) debates in the public Sheridan 1987) studies of the 1930s provided sphere, its political as well as cultural compo- indications of the kinds of evidence needed. The nents (Figure 1.3). The contributions range challenge has been taken up in at least some from popular publications at the conclusion of recent work (e.g., Day-Lewis 1989; Gauntlett a project to syndicated commentaries. In the and HiII1999). process, researchers mar promote the general