Ethnography & Collaborative Research

Luke Lassiter defines Collaborative Ethnography as a process that “moves collaboration from it’s taken-for-granted background and positions it on centre stage… it invites commentary from our consultants and seeks to make that commentary overtly part of the ethnographic text.” (Lassiter, 2005) Last week we were tasked with the activity of blogging about past generation’s memories’ of television, this proved to be a very good way to experiment with ethnography as a collaborative learning practice and I enjoyed the experience a lot.

I chose to have a discussion with my mother about her experiences with television during the 60’s, she lives five hours away from me on the Mid North Coast, so in order to conduct my interview I had to FaceTime her. There were a few distractions through approaching the conversation in this manner, such as her internet connection not handling the nature of the call, my dog barking in the background, my sister asking questions about what we were doing etc. but for the most part, we got through it and it was nice to spend time asking her about her life as I did not know it. In this situation it is also rewarding to see that the consultant enjoys sharing their experiences and having an input into the research that is being conducted. My mum didn’t have anything all that exciting to put forth, but she enjoyed speaking about her childhood home and letting me know about the ways that she connected with media during that time in her life.

In reading other people’s blog posts about this topic, it was very interesting to learn about all of the varying individual experiences, but what was also interesting was reading about all of the similarities. Many people interviewed their parents, who hailed from the same baby boomer generation as my own mother, and their stories and comments on the ways television dictated family life as well as the types of programmes that were watched, all lined up with what I discovered through my own ethnographic research. I found that a few other bloggers also found that their consultants did not have any real deep emotional connection to their television memories, because by the 60’s and 70’s, Tv had already been established as a normal part of home life.  Those who were lucky enough to interview grandparents and others from that older generation, were met with much more engaging stories surrounding the wonder of technology and the real impact it had on shifting the dynamics of the world.

Ethnographic collaboration as a research practice works well because it has the benefit of gaining a real and honest account of an individual’s experience, compared to traditional quantitative methods of measuring media use, which have the potential to produce generalised results that don’t accurately represent the diversity that genuinely occurs with media use in the home. When a comfortable relationship is built between consultant and researcher, conversation flows easily and the research process becomes memorable. The weaknesses of collaborative ethnography lie in the nature of the conversations being had, as the personal experiences being shared may cause privacy issues that lead to consultants not wanting their information shared in the great detail it has been provided.

Sources:

Lassiter, L E 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, An excerpt from The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, viewed 17 August 2017, www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html

 

 

Television Memories

My mother, Josephine, grew up as the youngest child of a nuclear family during the 1960’s in a split level home that bordered on the Royal National Park in Heathcote. When I ask her now about her childhood she recalls spending most of her time out with her friends, exploring the waterholes in the bush and running amuck with the other kids in the neighbourhood.

For as long as she can remember her family had had a black and white television in the house, until one day in the early 70’s when her mother came home with a colour TV that she had won as a promotional offer from her job as a Tupperware consultant. It was a freestanding television that took up the centre space in a large living room surrounded by one big lounge and two armchairs, there was no coffee table or ottoman, the TV was truly the feature of the room.

Watching television in her home was a casual affair, there was a routine to it certainly, but it was never formal. She can recall waking up in the mornings and getting herself ready for school because her parents had already left for work, her sister was considerably older than her, they shared a seven year age gap, so my Aunty was often either out of the house, or just didn’t want a bar of her annoying little sister. My mother remembers turning the TV on before school more so to counteract the loneliness rather than for the content. In the evenings when her parents had finished work, her father would turn on the TV, always to the ABC, and her mother would fix the dinner. Mum recalls TV being boring because she could never watch what she wanted to, and she had very little interest in what was being shown while her parents were in control so she would mostly have an early night.

Sometimes on a Sunday night, a Disney movie would be featured that her parents would let her watch, she remembers my grandpa sitting in one armchair while my grandmother sat in the other, and although there was a whole lounge available, she would lay on the floor with the dog while eating ice-cream, to watch her film. When I ask her about what other programmes she enjoyed watching she mentioned comedies such as; ‘Bewitched’, and ‘Gilligan’s Island’, as well as the ‘Benny Hill Show’ and the ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoons. She recalls that she enjoyed watching Romper Room as a kid and laughs about how ridiculous it was. She particularly remembers watching the 1969 Moon Landing at school and the sacking of Gough Whitlam in the 70’s.

When I asked her about the differences between viewing television as a child in the 60’s compared to now, she says that the biggest difference is the variety of channels that we now have and the fact that they are available at any time of the day – she remembers them closing at 10pm. She recalls it being annoying whenever the TV would break down, not because she couldn’t watch it, but because she would have to stay at home to wait for the repair man to come and fix it, meaning that she couldn’t go out to play with her friends. In speaking about television in a media space context during the 60’s and 70’s, she definitely agrees that it dictated family life and the way that her family spent their evenings together, but in a different way than it does today.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog #1: Media & Me.

Media is a word that holds many different connotations depending on the experiences you have had with it. The topic of media encapsulates so many different platforms, which makes it hard to decipher the difference between what my relationship has been with each medium as opposed to the concept as a whole.

I suppose that everybody’s first experience with media was with television, because although we are millennials, there was still a period of time between 1996 and 2007 where the Internet was not really on (my radar) at least.

The first real grown up movie I watched was Cameron Crowe’s, ‘Almost Famous’, and it quickly became my all time favourite. The iconic and powerful ‘Tiny Dancer’ sing-a-long scene is potentially the moment that allowed me to appreciate media, and the way that it can have an impact on people’s lives through positive audience connection. From there I began to further explore music and film on the Internet, thus becoming a true child of the digital age.

Ten years later and I am active on almost every social media platform thinkable, projecting my experiences and thoughts to family, friends and complete strangers, contributing to a media space, all because 11 year old me watched a very good movie with a powerful Elton John song in it.

Slut is a four letter word.

Three weeks ago, Kim Kardashian West posted the featured image on to her personal instagram account with the caption; “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”. It garnered 1.6 million likes and sent the whole world into a social media meltdown, causing many people, including those of a high profile to jump behind their keyboards and criticise the reality star/entrepreneur to no end. Kim later released an essay on international women’s day, hitting back at the critics and speaking out on the issue of ‘slut-shaming’, using herself and the backlash she has received over the past 13 years as a leading example of the problem.

I found the debate and discussion which occurred in the aftermath of Ms Kardashian-West’s selfie interesting as it seemed to demonstrate the hugely varying stances people held in regards to this topic and so, I felt it would be only natural to base my research project around the prominent issue of ‘Slut-shaming.’ My only problem being, which exact angle or approach to take.

What are the social impacts of slut-shaming upon females in Australia.

The hardest part about discovering the right approach to take in regards to this project was figuring out what was more important for me to investigate. Questions such as; ‘How prevalent is slut-shaming in today’s society’, and ‘How does slut-shaming impact on female empowerment’, sat with me for a while but these thoughts didn’t seem to capture specifically what I wished to unearth in terms of the research I would conduct. I didn’t want my leading question to unethically induce biased results or skew my research in any way and so I have chosen to lead with a broad question which will hopefully allow for me to explore the concept in further detail through my research methods; (survey questions, case studies etc.) I feel that my target question will allow me to delve into all of the aspects of the problem. I will be able to ask questions concerning the sexual double standard in regards to male sexuality vs. female sexuality; The idea that slut-shaming promotes sexual violence, The notion that it is women, who in fact perpetrate much of the ‘slut-shaming’, questions about the exact words and terms which are used to degrade women as well as a whole array of other pressing issues regarding the topic at hand.

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Tina Fey in the movie ‘Mean Girls’.

In terms of secondary sources which I have looked over in preparation for this task, I have found that this particular issue seems to be one of hot debate. Recently, there have been countless investigations carried out by universities as well as independent social justice movements such as; the ‘UnSlut Project‘ and Amber Rose‘s ‘Slutwalk‘, revolving around this topic.  A piece of Research conducted by the University of Kingsville, Texas; published in the Higher Education Journal  during May 2015, outlines findings concerning the ‘College students’ perceptions of slut-shaming discourse on campus’. An article posted on a Gender Society blog in 2014, titled ‘The link between Slut-shaming, Bullying and Femininity’, which was endorsed by the University of Massachusetts, identifies the different impacts slut-shaming connotations can have upon women of different economical calibres. An interview published by Complex Magazine with American Rapper ‘A$AP Rocky‘, titled “Jewels from A$AP Rocky” involves him speaking about the sexual double standard that applies to women which men seem to be immune to. This interview is quite interesting as it perfectly sums up a lot of the elements which make up and fuel the culture of slut shaming. These are just some of the dozens of sources I consulted when deciding on a worthwhile research topic.

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An image taken from Amber Rose’s SlutWalk campaign.

In regards to my Research Methodology, I intend to conduct an online survey which will feature a number of questions concerning many aspects of the slut-shaming issue, in order to gain a fuller understanding as to What are the social impacts of slut-shaming upon females in Australia. The survey will be distributed through social media platforms such as facebook and tumblr, making sure that I take care to ensure that the subjects fit the demographic (i.e Australian). I also plan to conduct interviews with a randomly selected few people in order to delve further into personal experiences concerning the topic. I will endeavour to ensure that my work will remain ethical at all times, by disclosing to all subjects the exact nature of my research and gaining their full permission to use any information obtained in my final project.

In conclusion, by conducting my own primary investigation into the social impacts of slut-shaming in Australia, I hope to shed some light on to the many elements which contribute to this largely contemporary issue.

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The Deteriorating Relevance of Silos in the Technological Age

Already, convergence is eroding the boundaries between newspapers and broadcasters. Online, each have begun to mimic the other, challenging Australia’s sensitive media control limits, cross-media ownership laws, and increasingly, Australian content requirements.”  – Greg Hoy 

Technological convergence is a phenomenon which has taken the globe by storm and forever changed the way in which we, as consumers, interact with media.

Silo media, (broadcast television, radio and print) which were once the standard and most popular forms of media communication have now become outdated and irrelevant as the process of converging technology and media platforms becomes more and more prevalent in today’s society. Newspaper corporations have been forced to merge into an online environment in order to cultivate a broader audience and keep a steady interest in their brand.

Furthermore, Broadcast Television has been faced with a brand new and ever evolving challenge in the form of ‘Smart TV‘s’. Smart TV’s are a prime example of technological convergence and are a major contributor to the brutal murder or good old fashioned free-to-air. A Smart TV can not only function as a television (with the addition of ‘on-demand’ functionalities allowing the user to pause, rewind and select when they wish to view any particular program – including live sport coverage) but it can also feature; internet streaming services such as Netflix , quickflix and Presto; applications such as youtube, facebook and twitter; and the ability to surf the net just as you would on a laptop or desktop computer.

So, when it comes down to explaining the depth of technological convergence, Smart TV’s pretty much set in concrete the fact that the future is now!

 

No Copyright Infringement Intended…

I got the idea for the case study for this week’s blog post when I decided it was about time I got my act together and downloaded Kanye West‘s latest album ‘The Life of Pablo‘, only to find that the only way I could even listen to it was if I subscribed to the music streaming app TIDAL. I had already used up my one month free trial ages ago and really didn’t want to give up my credit card details all for the sake of one album. I was so frustrated, why can’t I just buy the damn thing Kanye!?

Anyway, I did some research and found that he and his lawyers had actually launched a campaign against Pirate Bay for breach of copyright laws. So far no actual legal action has been taken and there is serious doubt as to if it ever will but it still adds to the constant buzz that surrounds well-known artists and the ways in which they try to combat copyright infringements. I made a Prezi (ironically riddled with copyright breaches) in order to further illustrate the case.

(Sidenote: HOW THE HELL DO YOU EMBED A PREZI!?)
https://prezi.com/embed/0-2b7fxtpikp/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&landing_data=bHVZZmNaNDBIWnNjdEVENDRhZDFNZGNIUE43MHdLNWpsdFJLb2ZHanI5a2pMUElJYVB0VVgrRVFzMEVHM2gvOUJ3PT0&landing_sign=BJUKtQXAbOXD-ea1h1pLDz5tlh-AzWTsNijcABtUxIw

Audio used in Prezi: Power by Kanye West ,

Marshall McLuhan, Messing with our Minds since 1964.

When first being introduced to McLuhan’s famous communication philosophy ‘The Medium is the Message’, the thought process goes a little something like this: “I think I get it… I think i’ve got it… IT MAKES SENSE, I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND THIS…. nope, I don’t get it, I will never get it.” Or at least, that’s how my brain deals.

To say that ‘The Medium is the Message’ is to say that the platform, through which information is distributed, has a greater impact on the individual than the content itself. And that’s all well and good but the hardest part about trying to grasp this concept is that there are so many elements that go into the meaning.

The Medium can become the message when it delivers content that we would otherwise be unable to access.For example; before innovative communication technologies existed in our world, such things as conversations with other people in different towns, regions or countries, were simply not possible. Today, however, with the existence of electricity, the internet and a myriad of communication devices which allow instant messaging and phone calls; we have become accustomed to the idea that we are able to contact anybody in any part of the world in an instant. This is because we, as tool users, view technology (our tools) as an extension of ourselves. (McLuhan, 1964)

This is the interpretation that makes the most sense to me and even still, I confused myself to no end trying to construct a response.

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