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Uses of Ethnography for Media Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3083 words Published: 23rd Sep 2019

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According to the BMJ, Ethnography is a qualitative study of social interactions, behaviours, and perceptions that occur within groups, teams, organisations, and communities (Christopher Ratcliff , 2018). This type of anthropological study dates back to the turn of the 20th century, and its aim was not just to gather information on how people behave and interact, but also how their location, environment and other contexts affects their day-to-day lives. Ethnography takes a wider picture of a culture, while other types of studies, such as participant observation, diary studies, interviews, video, photography or artefact analysis (devices they use throughout the day) are just different ways of approaching ethnography.

In the last few decades, ethnography has attained a central role theoretically and empirically in media studies (Antonio Pastina, 2003)

Linguistically, ethnography has come to represent an opposition to positivistic paradigms towards data collection and analysis, as well as the relationship between research and the researched. Ethnography has represented a shift from empirical practices of data collection, pushing scholars to introduce non-objective strategies to audience analysis and a greater level of self-reflexivity among researchers.

The benefit to using ethnography to participate in audience studies rests on its prospective to provide both a domestic and a communal framework of television and its reception among the different groups in the community (Antonio Pastina, 2005). It also facilitates an understanding of how the reception context can affect the interpretation of the message by viewers, individually and in groups (Antonio Pastina, 2003). Ethnographic research also allows the examination of the phenomena not only in its immediate social, political, and economic contexts but also in a larger historical framework, as well as its insertion in the broader regional, national, and global context.

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Audience ethnography has always been a practical challenge. This include identification of the surrounding environment and on personal ideational values and attitudes makes this a process fraught with limitations (Athique, 2008). To observe and participate in the process of media consumption might limit a more general analysis of the societal process and the general trends that can be observed in a sociological study.

Impact of TV contents on human behaviour, social and welfare activities.Social and welfare activities. In the context of television contents, everyday family life is explained as, in which television family view programs and interact each other in various ways including the entertainment, business and political experiences (David Gauntlett and Annette Hill, 1999). Home is the place where family members have their own perceptions, their different ways of judging things and making decision over what they perceived and what they were aware of already for each television program. It is just into that place that residents experience relationships with the media and other forms of communication e.g. symbolic form (Lull, 1982, p320).

The family is a unique social space for each family that might differ from other families (Bourdieu, 1983). The scientific dealing of ethnographic understanding proved that some rules and regulations should be imposed to sustain permanent family coexistence relations and avoid any conflicts.

The role of television dramatically alters in relation to viewers life changes. Women and men who experience changes to their employment or personal or family relationships are also of interest. The way in which these changes affect television usage can be seen to be more subtle and part of a gradual shift in patterns of television viewing and household member behaviours. This area incorporates exchange of regularizing changes in the family, for example, youthful progress, and less unsurprising changes, for example, separate. Nevertheless, there has been a significant growth in qualitative research on children’s responses to television programs over the past two decades. This type of researchers are very helpful in highlighting why and how children especially teenagers watch television in the home.

Palmer (1986, 1988) noted that children negotiate their relationship with television and everyday life, and often perform other activities, such as eating, reading or playing, whilst in front of the TV. In this section we shall see that children do not perceive television as being ‘bad’ for them, although they are concerned to explore leisure activities other than television.

McKenry and Price (1994) note that there has been an increased interest in how families cope with problems such as unemployment, or marital stress. They suggest that the family should be viewed as active rather than passive, and that researchers should be aware of ‘the pluralistic and changing nature of the family’ (1994: 308).

Rogge and Jensen (1988) and Rogge (1991) found in their study of West German families that everyday life and family relationships are in a constant state of flux. Their research showed that changes such as unemployment affect patterns of media use for the whole family. When a member of the household is unemployed, in particular the father, television can become far more central to the family dynamic than in the past, in many ways being used as the sole means of entertainment. Like Lull (1982) reported that television can also act as a barrier to communication within the family, and can encourage members to feel isolated and uncertain about the future.

The transition from adolescence to adulthood is a time when everyday structures and television consumption patterns alter considerably. There has been some research in young adults which shows that adolescents begin to anticipate belonging to a new group, or status, often adopting new values, or consumption patterns (Rosengren and Windahl 1989; Roe 1994).

TV is plainly critical to youthful grown-ups, both as a wellspring of amusement and data and as a site for social connection and commitment. In any case, the structure of the school day, and after-school exercises, guarantee that youngsters don’t have as much free relaxation time as they might want.

At the point when real changes happen, for example, considering for tests, this spots more weight on youthful grown-ups to work as opposed to associate with companions, or sit in front of the TV. TV turns out to be less critical the more youthful grown-ups are far from the family unit in which they grew up. While at college, youthful grown-ups will in general build up a scope of outside interests and are less reliant on TV as a primary wellspring of excitement.

It is significant here that talk of parental contribution, or strain between family individuals, is altogether missing from youth responses reactions to the subject of progress in their lives. This may appear to be interesting given the way that numerous youthful grown-ups are individuals from occupied families and don’t have sole decision of review content. It is conceivable to propose that there could be parental mediation in dimensions of TV seeing in adolescent years, especially at test time, when young people are experiencing tension to re-examine at home.

When youthful grown-ups characterize changes to their TV seeing examples they consider themselves to be the essential specialist in this transitional period. As Gunter and McAleer call attention to, parental mediation in what is viewed on TV once a day isn’t solid for the young gathering (1990: 137). This is brought into the world out in this investigation, where youthful grown-ups in a multi-set family are, all in all, ready to settle on their own choices about the kind of TV they need to watch.


Beginning optional school was a noteworthy wellspring of disturbance to a youthful grown-up’s example of TV impacts. The youthful respondents thought back to the beginning of the examination when they had still been in grade school, and they saw a reasonable and emotional distinction in the measure of time they stared at the TV.

Teenagers see a move in taste, and a decrease in the quantity of projects they watch It is not necessarily the case that these youthful grown-ups don’t esteem TV, yet to propose that their impression of the job TV needs to play in their lives has adjusted.

Starting university is the main crucial life transition for many young adults. This life transition significantly makes changes in daily routine and in how young people spend their free time. In major, the first year student even do not have TV in use due to studies. The other leisure is to go home for some holidays to have some relief. This meant that other social activities, and other media (magazines, radio and newspapers) became as, if not more, important as a daily source of information and entertainment.

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One of the important factors in maintaining a healthy and complete relationship is the amount of shared time for leisure that couples do spend together. Hill (1988) suggests that there can be short-term and long-term benefits from such shared leisure activities. In this study, we can see that television can be used to facilitate affirmative marital interaction, such as watching each other’s much-loved programmes, but it can also act as a means of escaping, and as a site of open clash. Couples argue about the number and type of programmes their spouses watch, and when one person is unhappy they may turn to television to avoid discussion and interaction with their partner.

‘For many adults, concerns with self-fulfilment, self-development, and careers have fostered a decreasing commitment to others, including partners and children, interpreting marriage and other intimate relationships fragile and vulnerable’. Many women, after divorce are more likely to experience loneliness and economic hardship, and significances of divorce are clear to see in the accounts in this section. In terms of television consumption, TV can act as a bridge between established routine and new lifestyles. Thus, television may provide comfort or a welcome distraction from these changes – it has a role to play in the ups and downs of family and personal relationships.

During periods of emotional upheaval, some people turn to TV to dodge confrontation, and tio avoid contact with their spouse. This means that television can come to symbolise the negative feelings in a relationship, and it is no wonder that some people turn away from TV after the break–up of a relationship, as it can serve to remind them of an unhappy period in their lives.


USA general Elections.

Repeated advertisement, talk shows, and news bulletins impact on the political choices of individuals. Watching TV programs on hand held devices have converted common self-viewing into a virtual theatre where one can chat and share ideas with others. Such virtual joint ventures create a league / cause or common dialogue amongst people living close or far away from each other. Good examples of such TV media through print and internet mediums are US elections electing Donald Trump and Arab Spring.

Repeated advertisement by Donald Trump and his Twitter usage trend since 2013 has converted him from a businessman to a political celebrity and finally the USA President. The media impact presenting Hilary Clintons approaches to deal with Arab countries and leaked telephone calls emerged as the key success for Trump. Trump repeated media campaign for Border wall with Mexico and “America First” were also the key slogans that made him a successful politician and people ignored his sexual and controversial Russian relations. The TV and social media was used to highlight only the one side of the wmirror and effectively hided the native side of the picture (Nicholas Mirzoeff, 2016; Michael Goodwin, 2018).

Arab Spring and role of social media 2011.The year 2010 witnessed the inception of a set of revolutionary waves later to be termed the Arab Spring in a number of countries in North Africa and the Middle-East (Khondker, 2011). These revolutionary uprisings included both non-violent and violent demonstrations, riots, and even civil wars in some of the countries of North Africa including Libya and Syria.

The 2011 events across the Arab world have brought‘social media’ to the forefront, with many crediing Facebook, weblogs and Twitter with facilitating the revolutions that have taken place.

Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan uprising were the main outcomes of information mitigation amongst residents and all over the world. This uprising changed the game of power to other hands (Othman Mohamed Othman Alshareif, 2016; Lorenzo Coretti, Maha Taki, 2013)

The ethnographic analyses concerted qualitative human behaviour into measureable quantity. This resulted getting more insights on attitudes, moods and different outcomes of the aftereffects of watching TV programs. Social media including TV play vital role in everyday lives and also for communities at local and national levels. Both positive and negative faces reveal that this technology is the best campaign while used within limits and for reasonable time. Otherwise, this can convert to venom and kill lives and social contacts.



  • Othman Mohamed Othman Alshareif, 2016, Western media representation of the Arab Spring revolutions and its impact on staff and students in a Libyan university setting.
  • Lorenzo Coretti, Maha Taki (2013), The role of social media in the Arab uprisings – past and present, Publisher: Communication and Media Research Institute of the University of Westminster. Editor: Maha Taki and Lorenzo Coretti
  • Antonio C. LA Pastina, Audience Ethnographies: A Media Engagement Approach, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=
  • Christopher Ratcliff (2018), What is an ethnographic study? https://www.userzoom.com/blog/what-is-an-ethnographic-study/
  • Antonio Pastina (2005), Audience Ethnographies: A Media Engagement Approach, http://www.globalmediajournal.com/open-access/audience-ethnographies-a-media-engagement-approach.php?aid=35086
  • Athique, A. (2008). Media audiences, ethnographic practice and the notion of a cultural field. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 11(1), 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549407084962
  • Pierre Bourdieu ,(1983) The Forms of Capital, Originally published as “Ökonomisches Kapital, kulturelles Kapital, soziales Kapital.” in Soziale Ungleichheiten (Soziale Welt, Sonderheft 2), edited by Reinhard Kreckel. Goettingen: Otto Schartz & Co.. 1983. pp. 183-98. Translated by Richard Nice
  • and Its Audience: International Research Perspectives, London: British Film Institute.
  • Rogge, Jan-Uwe (1991) ‘The Media in Everyday Family Life: Some Biographical and Typological Aspects’, in E. Seiter, H. Borchers, G. Kreutzner and E. Warth (eds) Remote Control: Television, Audiences and Cultural Power, London: Routledge.
  • Rogge, Jan-Uwe and Jensen, Jensen (1988) ‘Everyday Life and Television in West Germany: An Empathetic-Interpretive Perspective on the Family as System’, in James Lull (ed.) World Families Watch Television, London: Sage
  • Roe, Keith (1994) ‘Media Use and Social Mobility’, in K. E. Rosengren (ed.) Media Effects and Beyond: Culture, Socialization and Lifestyles, London: Routledge.
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  • Habibul Haque Khondker (2011) Role of the New Media in the Arab Spring, Globalizations, 8:5, 675-679,DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2011.621287


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