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Transcript of Ethnography
What is its main aim inside the communication field?
critical reading of content
producers' motivations and explanations
invaluable insights into determinants of media production
Participant observation and reflexivity
In the context of media studies, ethnography (sometime simply
) refers to the research method that involves the researcher spending considerable time in the field, observing and talking to journalists/producers/viewers as they go about their daily tasks and documenting their practices and culture.
Production: Daily routines, bureaucratic nature, professional ideologies, source dependencies and cultural practices of the news media.
Consumption: Uses and gratification, interpretation, resistance, identification
Ethnography as a method
It involves various procedures for empirical analysis:
participant observation in the contexts of everyday, social life,
as well as interviewing participants
Ethnography must be open to the contingencies of the field experience and therefore less than strictly linear in its execution or predictable in its findings
The researcher and the researched as meaning-giving subjects
The field is not a tabula rasa
1. Complete observer (overt, covert)
2. Participant as observer (more as an observer than a participant)
3. Observer-as-participant (more as a participant than observer)
4. Complete participant
How to make .. some tips
systematic noting and recording of events
1. Keep field notebook
2. Write down notes as soon as possible
3. Notes should include empirical observations and interpretations
4. Cross files –fill in dates and times you made observations.
5. Analyze and interpret your observations, discerning patterns of behavior, finding the underlying meanings in the thing you observed
6. Combine methods
• Descriptive field notes focus on the main observations, conversations, experiences and interviews
• Methodological information documents the subjective impressions of the researcher observed in the data-gathering context.
• Analytic field notes contain preliminary stages of analysis. Here data are sorted, coded, and analyzed for the first time – gaps can be addressed and questions can be followed-up.
Limits and critics
Giving too much explanatory weight to only visible practices of production/consumption and not to external forces
Gaining regular access to senior levels of management’
Writing culture could not be value-free
Major theories of media and society periodically need to be exposed to these more grounded findings because they encourage and provide a more qualified stance to some of the circulating claims and generalisations made about the news media.
Exploratory and interpretive values
Communication Research (III Module)
Systematic study of people and cultures. It is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study.
Ethnography step by step
(i) research design
(ii) securing access
(iii) negotiating field relationships
(iv) time to spend there
(vi) analysing data
(vii) write up
Multimedia (and Multimodal) ethnography
ethnographers are increasingly utilising a range of communicative resources in their work – including recorded sound, still and moving images, as well as speech and writing
Ethnography is now situated within a world saturated by multimedia technologies.
Ethnography in communication is also situated in an environment where the production of multimedia documents is continuous.
Ethnography has to consider serveral levels of multimediality:
1) that of the field itself
2) that of the media used to represent research data
At the same time, we can distinguish between data ‘in’ the field and the means of representing those data.
As means of storing and representing information, in this sense photographs or videos should be seen as analogous to code-sheets, the responses to interview schedules, ethnographic fieldnotes, tape recordings of verbal interaction or anyone of the numerous ways in which the social researchers seek to capture data for subsequent analysis.
MEDIA AND MEANING
Media are the specific material forms in which media forms and formats are realized, including tools and materials (Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2001: 22).
Meanings, on the other hand, are the non-material resources of meaning-making (they include writing, speech and images as well as gesture, facial expression, texture, attitude).
Meanings/interpretations/modes cannot be directly observed, for they are abstract resources; they are rule-governed, codified sets of meaning-resources, involving the idea of formal ‘grammars’ – for example, the ‘grammar’ of film and that of writing.
This relates to Geertz’s point (1973) about the difference between naturalist and interpretivist perspectives: twitches, winks, fake-winks and parody-winks may ‘objectively’ be the same physical movement, but are all communicatively different.
Rather than focusing solely on observable media, it encourages appreciation of the different (or, indeed, similar) kinds of meaning that different media afford.
It follows that in order to understand the meanings of any environment, we need to understand how its various modes and media work together to produce a particular ensemble of meaning-effects (and these need to be understood, crucially, through including the ‘consumption’ side of the communicative process: i.e. the ways in which actual users/participants interact with and interpret them).
How to use the collected material?
(v) collecting data
It allows to control production and consumption practices