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Anthropology of Mass Media

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Klaudia Zdybel

on 11 February 2013

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Transcript of Anthropology of Mass Media

San
Francisco Anthropology of Mass Media: Middle East
Video Essay 1
Samantha,Klaudia, Elia Anthropological fieldwork and ethnographic participation observation is essential in order to understand the community of individuals being studied. It is important to recognize the similarities as well as the differences in each group of people through text, day-to-day interactions, culture, and history. Daniel Lerner and Edward Said's theoretical approaches fail to establish an anthropological experience within the communities in which they researched. Greece Lerner describes modernization “as a process capable of transforming individual pathways”(Lerner p. 76). Mass media plays the most crucial role in the transformation of an individual from traditional to modern. Social change depends on these individuals, their environment, and their ability to co-exist. Modernization or development theory presents the idea that by introducing modern methods in technology, the underdeveloped countries will experience a strengthening in their economies. Scholars of modernization theory felt that the rest of the world needed to look to the Western model of modernity, and pattern their society like the West in order to progress. . Egypt Lerner’s research consisted of questionnaires and interviews distributed and completed in seven countries---Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iran.---Greece didn't make the cut in Learner’s book...they were the “guinea pig”.
2000 Interviews were conducted, 1600 of which were analyzed, in each country by native scholars, supervised by an American interpreter. If the interviewee was not a radio listener or movie-goer, they were given a questionnaire instead to omit questions that they couldn’t answer.
The process lasted 1-6 hours depending on the participants media exposure and which method was given to them. Turkey As seen in his data collection, respondents were classified as Moderns, Transitionals, or Traditionals by their scores. Moderns, of course, having high scores in urbanization, literacy, media participation, and empathy or the desire to live a more modern way of life.
From the scores that were produced, which he illustrated through numerous graphs, he was able to expand on his theory, that only through media exposure can a society be modern and produce empathy toward living a modern, a.k.a western life-style.
From the six countries that Lerner researched and recorded, Turkey and Lebanon were the most modern, dynamic, stable, and on the way to democratizing.
Meanwhile-Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iran were less modern, dynamic, stable and sites of conflict over control of power.
He attributed these results to the extraordinary growth of mass media consumption and production in Turkey and Lebanon versus the other four countries. The results correlated with participant scores who were native to these countries, and exposed to a heavier “volume” of mass media. Saudi Arabia Lerner’s conducted interviews, analyzed data, and made generalizations from his fieldwork. The approaches used were collective and interactive, but still lacked the participation observation that anthropologists emphasize. This is important to anthropologists because it gives a realistic approach to studying people, their history, religion and ideologies through the community's eyes, and not through the eyes of the media. Edward Said examines the orientalist approach and Islam in the media. As Said mentions, “the general basis of Orientalist thought is an imaginative and yet drastically polarized geography diving the world into two unequal parts, the larger, ‘different’ one called the Orient, and the other, know as ‘our’ world, called the Occident or the West” (Said p4). There is a division being made by the West and other countries in the Middle East, it marks differences rather than similarities. These differences also mark a sense of inferiority these countries possess to the West. Labels, according to Said, must be taken seriously when speaking and writing about Islam and the Middle East countries as well as the West. When Said talks about the Iranian revolution in the decade of the 70s, he claims “the people who overthrew the shah were simple not explainable according to the canons of behavior presupposed by modernization theory”, (Said p29). The people did not seem grateful about the modernization (Western) benefits, (example used is cars) the West had to offer. There is a great resistance many Islamic countries have against the Western ideologies and this resistance has gotten them misrepresented in the West. Media portrays them as inferior, unnatural to the modernized system and religiously dangerous to themselves and other countries. Sudan Libya Algeria The methods for analyzing media of Islam made by Said are viewed historically by religion, seeing media as text to analyze. In other words, what mechanisms text uses to see what it does is called Textual analysis. Although Said’s paper is very informative it could also be looked upon as a passive voice. This could cause misrepresentations of the people, and the Islam history. For a more anthropological approach, the passive voice is not recommended. Anthropological writings should establish an experience withing the communities being researched. It makes the research more "real" and assumptions and doubts more limited.
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