Assessment: Media and Everyday Life Research Paper
The aim of this assessment is to develop skills in research design; specifically the tasks of collecting, organizing and analyzing data. Throughout your university and working life you will have to research i.e. pose questions of social reality and develop the most appropriate means to find answers to these questions.
To complete this assignment you will have to do a simple piece of empirical research and conceptually analyse your findings. The topic of your research is to explore the balance of traditional ‘broadcast’ media and contemporary “new” or networked media in everyday life.
Research Question 1: Have contemporary networked media displaced traditional broadcast media in your research subject’s everyday life?
Research Question 2: How does the balance of traditional and networked media impact on your research subject’s experience of public life?
The Research Process
Step 1: Choosing your research subject
To begin your research we want you to select someone for your study. The person you select can be anyone who is willing to document and discuss his or her media use with you.
Step 2: Collecting Empirical Data
To collect some empirical data for your study, you must ask them to keep a diary of all their media use within a calendar week. You should prepare, in advance, some way for them to easily keep a detailed record of when and where they use the device or service, for how long, as well as for what purpose: pleasure and relaxation, communication, study, what content and relationships did they engage with?
Step 3: Analysing your data
Once you have collated your diary information you will need to develop ways to analyse it. How will you make sense of this information? What tools and concepts do you need to sort and classify it? Think about what factors are shaping these patterns; are the patterns a result of demographic, economic, technological, taste differences, space and time factors or a combination of these? Or are they a result of other forces altogether? How do the patterns of media use seemingly play some role in this person’s life?
Good research is about how well the researcher thinks with the material, the insights and analyses they bring to the data and the ways they are able to explore the connections between everyday media activities and the wider contexts and forces that organise the media.
Having thought about the data, you will now need to identify two main concepts from the course (e.g. domestication, mobility, identity, etc) that you will use to interpret the data and think theoretically about the relationship between media and everyday life in this particular case. Once you’ve identified the two key concepts or analytical tools that you think are most useful for exploring and explaining your data then use them; put them to work on your material and develop an analysis of your diary data.
At this stage you will need to spend some time outlining the nature of your concepts how do they help us understand media use? Use the readings in the study kit to develop the concepts, to explain their meanings and value in this research, why they are useful tools for your analysis. You can also do some additional research on how others have used and applied the concepts to their own research and explanations of media.
Step 4: Writing your research report
Then write up your research report. You need to think carefully about how to organise your material. How will you introduce your research, what framing questions and ideas will you use to set it up? How will you write up the basic patterns that your diaries revealed? How will you organise and explain your analysis? You don’t have to come up with definitive conclusions but you do have to show that you can think carefully and deeply about media in everyday life. We will discuss more specific strategies for writing your research paper during class times around the mid-session break.
Your research paper should report on the work you’ve completed and how you have analysed it. This report should describe:
1. The person you’ve selected to study and why.
2. How you went about collecting the data and the rationale behind your choices.
Identify the patterns that emerged and the aspects of their media use which help you answer the research questions.
3. The concepts from the course you have used to analyse the information you’ve collected.
4. The analysis of the patterns you’ve uncovered and their significance to the individual’s everyday life and their social implications for the media and society at large.
5. Lastly, you should include the data you obtained from the diary in some easily manageable form, as well as any relevant notes you’ve made in subsequent interviews or observations.
Assessment Criteria for Research Paper
1. Evidence of good information collection from diaries and identification of patterns.
2. Ability to manage and make appropriate research decisions to explore the relationship between media and everyday life.
3. Ability to identify appropriate concepts and tools for analysis and to propose the meanings and significance of these tools.
4. Ability to use theoretical tools and concepts effectively and rigorously.
5. Ability to think with the research material and to explore its significance in relation to the wider social contexts of media in everyday life.
6. Ability to write a clear, engaging piece of analysis that addresses the relationship between media and everyday life.
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