Mac201 Audiences And Ethnography Lecture Rj

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Session slides drawn from the workshop and the lecture looking at the turn towards 'ethnographic' audience research within Media & Cultural Studies

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Mac201 Audiences And Ethnography Lecture Rj

  1. 1. WHY STUDY AUDIENCES?Some approachesMAC201Robert Jewitt1
  2. 2. AUDIENCE CONSUMPTION Perhaps ‘the’ most important part of the processfor media producers2
  3. 3. AUDIENCE CONSUMPTION Perhaps ‘the’ most important part of the processfor media producers Tailor products to audience preferences Identify suitable advertising space Technological improvements and usability Impression management Explore social trends for future policy3
  4. 4. AUDIENCE CONSUMPTION Perhaps ‘the’ most important part of the processfor media producers Tailor products to audience preferences Identify suitable advertising space Technological improvements and usability Impression management Explore social trends for future policy Lots of myths exist regarding audiencerelationships with the media4
  5. 5. 5
  6. 6. AUDIENCE RESEARCH2 APPROACHES Quantitative data Based on volume i.e., amount of people participated. Qualitative data Based on level of detail i.e., amount of data from individuals6
  7. 7. AUDIENCE RESEARCH2 APPROACHES Quantitative data Based on volume i.e., amount of people participated Qualitative data Based on level of detail i.e., amount of data from individuals7
  8. 8. AUDIENCE RESEARCH2 APPROACHES Quantitative data Based on volume i.e., amount of people participated Qualitative data Based on level of detail i.e., amount of data from individuals Ethnography – starts with people first ratherthan a hypothesis8
  9. 9. ETHNOGRAPHIC AUDIENCERESEARCH A way of conducting research into what isoccurring in the wider social worldObservationListeningQuestioning Describes intimate human-social phenomena Draws from cultural anthropology9
  10. 10. AUDIENCE TEST SCREENING10 Invented in 1919 by Harry Lloyd in order tochange a film before the final release to bettersuit a mass audience Questionnaire based
  11. 11. AUDIENCE TEST SCREENING11 Invented in 1919 by Harry Lloyd in order tochange a film before the final release to bettersuit a mass audience Questionnaire based
  12. 12. AUDIENCE TEST SCREENING12 Invented in 1919 by Harry Lloyd in order tochange a film before the final release to bettersuit a mass audience Questionnaire based Darker ending removed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch2vPwOlEX4http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx49d_GwskU
  13. 13. ETHNOGRAPHY AS ‘HANGINGOUT?’ Machin (2002: p1): The role of the ethnographer is to be‘finely tuned to the patterns andprocesses that make up the social world’ Key figures in anthropology: Bronisław Malinowski (1884-1942) Clifford Geertz (1926-2006) Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-?)13http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pPY7EaSN9pA
  14. 14. AUDIENCE RESEARCH:ETHNOGRAPHY ‘At the heart of ethnography is the act ofobserving and listening to people as they goabout their everyday lives in order that we canunderstand the way they behave or think ontheir own terms’ (Machin, 2002: 1) Apply ethos of the paradigm to media use14
  15. 15. AUDIENCE RESEARCH:ETHNOGRAPHY ‘This can be contrasted with the process of eithertheorising about the reasons for a particularbehaviour or composing a questionnaire, andtherefore asking the subjects of our research torespond to a set of assumptions that we havealready made about why they behave in aparticular way’ (Machin, 2002: 1)15
  16. 16. HSBC ‘LOCAL BANK’ ADS Important to know the local context of thebrand, or how it is being understood Launch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK_NinOmFWw Pets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bVCj9Ayxc8 Eels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_WAmt3cMdk16
  17. 17. EVERYDAY LIFE ISARBITRARY17Islamic prayerAmsterdamLa TomatinaBigg Market
  18. 18. EXPLAIN BEHAVIOUR Everyday life appears natural Governed by socially constructed rules Majority of people abide by them Different (sub) cultures may function differently18
  19. 19. DIFFERENT TYPE OF RESEARCH Questionnaire survey Excellent for gathering socio-economic data Limited scope; ‘closed’ questions19
  20. 20. FRAMING THE QUESTIONS Responses to questions are often contextual How questions are framed can determine answer How responses are measured can also shaperesults20
  21. 21. PROBLEMATIC FRAMING A set of assumptions that we’ve alreadymade? Typical questions asked can skew the results: Eg: “Do you support the attempt by the USA & UK tobring freedom and democracy to other places in theworld?” Or “Do you support the unprovoked military action bythe USA?”21
  22. 22. DIFFERENT TYPE OF RESEARCH Open ended questions Interviewees expand on points Interviewees might not know reasons why they behave22
  23. 23. DIFFERENT TYPE OF RESEARCH Focus groups Group dynamic more ‘natural’ Unnatural environment; contrived discussions; littlecontrol23
  24. 24. CRITICISMS OF ETHNOGRAPHY Scientific or rigorous? Interpretive methodology (role of researcher) Natural sciences vs Social sciences Positivism via Descartes (see Ruddock, 2001) Variables identified > isolated > measured Standardized method of investigation24
  25. 25. 25Correlation does not imply causation
  26. 26. 26
  27. 27. COMPARE ATTITUDES TOWARDSTV/RADIO PROGRAMME Identify audience variables Income? Attitudes? Geography? Age? Create questionnaire Collect responses Assess patterns All this assumes the veneer of distance andscientific objectivity and neutrality. 27- "Why are people going so crazyover this, its funny as hell”- "Its boys being boys”- “How can you possibly NOT findthis hilarious?”
  28. 28. GENERAL AUDIENCE RESEARCH ISSUES:VALIDITY Why would people lie? Uncomfortable questions about personal life How people present themselves & reality Questionnaires = leap of faith Emile Durkheim (1952) on low incidences of suicidein Catholic countries Ethnography paints a broader picture28
  29. 29. GENERAL AUDIENCE RESEARCH ISSUES:REPRESENTATIVENESS Depends on when it is undertaken: sampling Random sampling; Strategic random sampling Targeted sampling; Quota sampling Size of group (is more better?) Large samples difficult to analyse (low validity) Presumptions of researcher? Broad samples not suited to specific tasks (eg.,Star Trek fans) Ethnography is representative of those takingpart in study29
  30. 30. GENERAL AUDIENCE RESEARCH ISSUES:RELIABILITY Should the research be repeatable? Rigid methodology Methods suited to individualistic responses? Ethnography is adaptive Ethnography as too interpretive?30
  31. 31.  Describes the quality ofphenomena Is primarily inductive –builds theory Uses text based dataderived from observations,interviews and elicitation Focus of study is localized Unit of analysis is usuallylarger than the individual Usually uses universal orselective sampling Emphasizes validity Uses case-study/continuousassessment design ininterventions Measures the quantity ofphenomena Is primary deductive –tests theory Uses numerical data basedon quantification Focus of study is local,national or international Unit of analysis is usuallythe individual Randomizes samplingprocedures Emphasizes reliability andgeneralizability Uses experimental orquasi-experimental designin a controlled settingsQualitative Research Quantitative Research31Source: Jean J. Schensul, 2005:http://cira.med.yale.edu/events/mbseminars/mbs070705.pdf
  32. 32. CONCLUSION Heisenberg’s ‘Uncertainty principle’ ‘What we observe is not nature itself, but natureexposed to our method of questioning’(1958, Physics and Philosophy)32
  33. 33. CONCLUSION Numerous reasons for audience research No approach is 100% accurate despite claims Quantitative (statistical) research is usefulstarting point Qualitative (interpretive) research builds on this33
  34. 34.  Ideally, triangulation is sought from multiplemethods but not always obtainable.34
  35. 35. SOME VERY USEFUL BACKGROUNDTEXTS35
  36. 36. Researching online36
  37. 37. USEFUL READING Ien Ang, 1991, Desperately Seeking the Audience. London: Routledge. Werner Heisenberg, 1958, ‘Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution inModern Science’, Lectures delivered at University of St. Andrews,Scotland, Winter 1955-56, availablehttp://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/heisenb3.htm Shaun Moores, 1993, Interpreting Audiences, London: Sage.(recommended reading: full text) David Machin, 2002, Ethnographic Research for Media Studies,London: Arnold (one chapter on WebCT) Virginia Nightingale & Karen Ross, 2004, Media and Audiences: NewPerspectives. Buckingham: Open University Press (chapter 2). Andy Ruddock, 2001, Understanding Audiences: Theory & Method,London: Sage Sue Stoessl, 1998, “Audience feedback: administrative research ofaudiences”, in A. Briggs and P. Cobley (eds.) The Media: AnIntroduction. London: Longman. 37

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