Week 3 – Media audiences and Ethnography

After reading a number of blogs this week i’ve found the majority of people of the baby boomer generation that saw television first released in Australia reflect on this as a positive experience. The introduction of television in Australia saw the dynamic of family homes drastically change, so much so that evening activities were dictated by what programs would be televised. Analysing this research can be incredibly versatile and useful on a number of scales. As media students it is important to weigh up the qualitative and quantitive strengths of media research. This can help us determine what affect media technologies have had or continue to have on topics such as television which is relevant to our studies.

The most effective method for analysing such research is to employ what Luke Eric Lassiter (2005) refers to as collaborative ethnography. Ethnography is the scientific study dedicated to the customs and habits of people within specific cultures. By nature, it is a collaborative process as it looks at gathering data on society and its practices. Ethnography often provides a deeper understanding of information that cannot be provided by raw statistical data – as it gives insight into what audiences feel, how they react as well as how fictional content affects their interpersonal relationships and personal lives simultaneously.

Dave Lange’s Audience Research Blog highlights the relative strengths that collaborative research possesses. If the correct moral and ethical standards are applied such research can be extremely beneficial for research, as it provides a more holistic view of relevant data. One example would be the relationship people have with specific television shows, including what influence they may or may not have on a person. Raw statistical data can only provide basic information such as ratings and duration of viewing. Collaborative ethnography can therefore be relied upon to enhance the quality and validity of data collection which is different from individual research, as it is more representative of a larger body. Furthermore collaborative research inherently is designed for a modern approach to learning as it is heavily reliant on the study of new technologies. Moore’s law of technology progression is built on the capacity of integrated circuits, which doubles every two years. With it we double the capability of the circuits and it’s applications. When considering such a process in relation to collaborative ethnography,  research in turn becomes more quantifiable, providing a well rounded and holistic view of relevant data.

Whilst collaborative research is responsible for providing a more cohesive view, it also has limitations which are essential to consider when conducting studies. There are strict moral and ethical codes which must be adhered to when collaborating information. These primarily include privacy and consent laws which centre around a persons willingness to firstly provide data, but also have that data broadcasted for use across different channels of research. This can result in legal outcomes particularly if research subjects are not fully made aware of what their data is being used for. Collaborative research therefore can be seen as intrusive or having a negative impact on people’s personal or interpersonal relationships. It is therefore paramount that researchers are aware of the legal and ethical standards that they are bound to regardless of the target they are trying to achieve.



About alexdebs

Second year Bachelor of Communications and Media studies student at the University of Wollongong. I am an aspiring journalist with a passion for sport, music and travel.
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