Ethnography And The Media Effects On The Audience Essay

Ethnography And The Media Effects On The Audience Essay

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Ethnography plays a key role in doing qualitative audience research. Traditional audience research is using quantitative study of positivism paradigm, which aims to measure the media effects on the audience. These studies with may use statistics methods to calculate the rate of reading and ratings or design questionnaires to the audience in order to collect the statistical data of the audience reactions. Hall (1980) claims that there are three models for the audience to interpret the meaning towards medium. It meaning that audience research is based on the spontaneity of the audience. Thus, Hall’s encoding-decoding model opens a new page of audience research. Moreover, the audience is becoming increasingly fragmented, individualised, dispersed, no longer addressable as a mass (Ien Ang, 1996, p.67). Thus, an increasing number of scholars conduct research on the audience and the process of audience reception towards media messages. This approach applied to the media audience can be seen as the beginning of ‘New Audience Research’ (Curran and Gurevitch, 1991).
Moreover, ethnography enables scholars to study the medium consumption as the daily practice. In the past, most of the researches may concentrate on the text and discourse which is transferred by the medium to understand the audience reactions. However, with the application of ethnography, exploring the rules of daily life with mass communication and the relationship between medium consumption and societal culture may be seen as the main topic towards audience research. It is important to understand the different contexts of the audience instead of the media discourse. As Clifford and Marcus (1986) indicates that cultures always help people construct a temporal focus on selecti...


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...onship between technology and the culture. She (2007) ‘argues that mobility and belonging by highlighting the increasing importance of communication technologies and the "homing work" that is necessary and possible in online forums’.
However, the characteristics of ethnography may bring some limitations towards audience research. ‘Ethnographic methods are excellent for examining particular groups or individuals in depth, but seem less apt for understanding broader everyday audiences’ (Mittell, 2004). Due to the key methods of ethnography are detailed within a small range of audience, it may restrict the universality and representativeness of the result. Moreover, ethnography may have negative effect on a large sample of macro-research. It is argued that very little audience research is truly ethnographic because of the special and difficult process during a research.

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