The collaborative ethnography method of conducting media audience research allows engagement with others while reflecting in the context of their real experiences. The relationship between the ethnographer and consultant forms a sort of negotiation that gives back, allowing that certain aspect being researched to be further explored. Conducting my own collaborative ethnographic research by interviewing my father and reading others interviews proved to have both strengths and weaknesses to this method. It allows us to find common similarities between the television culture back then and now and compares the differences. As identified in my previous blog, I found reasoning to how my parents viewed television now- by watching it while eating dinner. This was due to the fact that TV was only available at public places- mostly restaurants where they could sit down themselves and enjoy with friends. It was considered a luxury and wasn’t affordable. Due to this familiar practice, placement of my family TV now is mainly in the dining room which is where my parents only watch their television. Additional TV’s in the family living room is a totally separate practice and is given to us, ‘the kids’ as an extra to use and watch as we please when we aren’t having dinner. Therefore, my parents don’t mind having TV in the background during dinner and don’t see any problem with this unlike other families in which I noticed with other MAP students that discussed having their TV being turned off during family dinner.
A strength of collaborative ethnography would definitely be the ability to have qualitative, detailed accounts of the interlocutors’ experiences that enables interviewers to further question and elaborate answers. This could however also be a weakness in which their accounts may be altered or bias due to their own distorted memories. Reflecting on my own interview I noticed Dad had trouble recollecting some memories of what he mostly watched and only remembered the fond memories. There were few instances where he said ‘I don’t remember but it was kind of like this’. This can question the validity and reliability of the research.
Reading through other students reflections on their interviews; I noticed a common theme that is a sense of family that was gained from watching television. Even now, this quality family time can still be evident however is questioned due to our short attention spans now that impact our tendency to be distracted and get interrupted by other devices. For example, I watched television for the first time in a while and during the ads or the ‘boring parts’ I naturally grabbed my phone and started browsing social media. It’s just a natural urge to keep ourselves busy and intrigued by something else. Another common theme throughout the MAP blogs was obviously the state of the huge box like TV’s. They were considered a luxury- which was something my dad had established; and only available to those that could afford it. It was definitely interesting reading others blogs in reading something different to what I had reflected on. Overall it was heavily established that most television memories incorporated the strong family interaction that came with it and those fond memories were what was commonly remembered and cherished.
By conducting ethnography, television practices overtime were analysed and a link between family dynamics and technological advancements was established; allowing us to identify changing society and media audiences.
Lassiter, L. 2005. The Chicago guide to collaborative ethnography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Whitehead, T. 2005. Basic Classical Ethnographic Research Methods. ETHNOGRAPHICALLY INFORMED COMMUNITY AND CULTURAL ASSESSMENT RESEARCH SYSTEMS. Maryland, USA: University of Maryland.