Audience Ethnography

For this assignment you are required to develop a log (worth 20%) and research report (worth 30%) on the television viewing behaviours of a group of people (3-4 people) with whom you are in contact covering weeks 9-11. The participants may be members of your family (siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins), a selection of friends, people at work (e.g. if TV is shown in the workplace), or others who you are able to access watching TV. Not all your participants need to be viewing at the same time but there should be something that unites them as a group. The participants you follow may consume television in any of its myriad forms e.g. broadcast, online, on laptops or on mobile phones.

As an ethnographer your role is to temporarily step out of your participants’ world and imagine you are from a different country or culture looking back at them with new eyes. What would you notice about their TV viewing habits that is interesting or unusual? Your main approach for this assignment is not to interview participants, but to observe them. However, if you are a participant ethnographer you may comment on conversations around shows that you have with your participants or that they have with others.

For ethical reasons, ensure you get verbal permission from your participants to observe them. You may use pseudonyms to protect the identity of your participants in your report.

Log 20%

Use the log sheet that will be available on ilearn and fill out details from your observations over the 4 weeks. Use Marie Gillespie’s observations on the use of television among South Asian families in Southall as a guide (Gillespie 1995, Week 9 readings). These log sheets and all working notes on observations must be included in an appendix at the end of your report. For this reason it is better to type instead of handwrite your notes.

Your log must provide details on the following:

Day, time, channel, type (e.g. free-to-air, pay TV)
How TV is viewed (e.g. on TV screen, laptop, tablet, mobile phone)
The nature of the content (programs watched, genre, language, advertisements etc.)
Duration of viewing
Other uses of television (e.g. to watch DVDs, use of games consoles etc.)
The people who shared or participated in the viewing events (describe them)
Activities that took place during the viewing events (e.g. Were participants doing something else at the same time as watching TV? What else was going on around them? If participants were having dinner, using social media or talking at the same time, include salient quotes of discussions about the program in your notes)
Research Report 30%

In your report explain:

the aim of your research (including research questions)
your method (who you observed, why, when, where, and how; whether you were a participant as well as an observer; explain how readings on audience ethnography informed your approach)
a key theory (or couple of theories) that underpins your study e.g. globalization, glocalisation, cultural proximity, gender, old and new technology etc.
your key observations (findings) over the 3 weeks (include detailed observations and specific quotes from your log)
a discussion that links your findings back to the key theories
your ideas for further research that may be interesting to follow up on
Link your discussion as much as possible to key ‘international’ concepts. For instance, when describing your participants you may consider their cultural, ethnic, and national backgrounds. You may explain the programs they watch in international terms e.g. what countries they come from, whether they are global formats, hybridisations, or local etc. You may consider what might be driving your participants’ TV choices culturally as well as any intersections with other factors like gender, class and generational differences as appropriate.

Report Length: 1200 words. Log: Minimum 1000 words

Submit your report and log as one document to Turnitin.

You will be assessed on your ability to:

Clearly articulate the aim and method of the research.
Use robust and varied data from ethnographic observations.
Make connections using different forms of evidence.
Keep a comprehensive log with relevant and substantial observational data over a four-week period.
Refer to at least 4 relevant sources from the unit reader and at least 3 thoughtfully chosen academic sources beyond the reader.
Structure the report in a clear, logical and engaging way.
Discuss ideas with relevant frameworks, linking concepts to insights based on the findings.
Effectively integrate cited material, with complete and appropriate referencing.
Write clearly, concisely and directly, without spelling or grammatical errors.

NB: Detailed marking rubrics for all assessment tasks can be found on ilearn.



This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
Demonstrate understanding of key theories and concepts in the study of international television.
Acquire research skills by employing quantitative and qualitative media research methods.
Critically analyse and interpret research data using appropriate framework.
Present written arguments in a coherent form and demonstrate skills in oral presentation.
ICOM201 International Television and Beyond Assignment: Audience Ethnography

Research Log Sheet No_____of _____ Observer Name________________________________________________


Day/Date/Time Location/Duration Participant Description
(e.g. gender, age, ethnicity, relationship Observations ( e.g. channel, program, activities, participant comments)



Download and fill in the log sheet every time you do your observations. You should have quite a few pages covering 21 hours worth of observations spread over 3-4 weeks. The level of useful detail and number of hours (at least 21 hours) will be the key consideration in judging your logs. It is recommended that you submit typed instead of handwritten observations. Attach these at the back of your report for the final assignment.

Ensure your notes are VERY detailed! e.g. You can include actions audiences take in response to specific content on TV shows e.g. when a particular show or segment or ad comes on, do they start talking in another language, start Tweeting or sending Facebook messages, eat their dinner, go to the loo etc. I mean detailed! Include specific quotes from conversations that take place around the viewing of TV shows, e.g. when person A on the news reported B about event C, my mum/Mary/grandpa Jack said ‘….’ and my brother, James, started to… It might seem insignificant at the time, but when you review your notes you might start to see patterns in behaviour. Do specific people respond to programs in particular ways? What is the impact of culture on their responses to and choices of TV programs to view? etc. These are the kinds of things you are trying to uncover.
The information in these detail logs will be the raw data that you will be able to draw from to write your analysis. You will draw out themes from these details. An argument should be built around your findings in relation to at least one the weekly topics of this unit e.g. globalisation/flows, cultural proximity/hybridity/identity, news vs entertainment TV, state-funded vs commercial TV, development and indigenous TV, new media and beyond (e.g. if you’d like to focus on the technological aspects, use of mobile devices etc.) The logs need to be included as an appendix at the end of your ethnography assignment and are a significant part of the assignment.

Use the readings on audience ethnographies to help get you started – and keep up to date with the weekly readings as they will give you ideas for topics to focus on and should be incorporated as references within your analysis.
You will also be expected to go beyond the set readings and find readings that particularly inform your study and relate to the interesting findings your discover about your friends/families/colleagues or whoever you are observing.
Your observations should go for at least 3 weeks. So you may start now – or by 6 Oct by the very latest – as you will need time to consider the data, uncover a focus and key themes, find relevant literature and write the analysis.

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