A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

By Klaus Bruhn Jensen | Go to book overview

1

Introduction

The state of convergence in media and communication research
Klaus Bruhn Jensen
• a reassessment of the field with reference to the three concepts of media, social structure, and human agency
• a distinction between media of three degrees: speech, technologically reproduced communication, and computer-mediated communication
• a comparison of culture in the narrow sense of aesthetic works and in the broad sense of a whole way of life
• a definition of modern media as institutions-to-think-with
• a presentation of a communication model which integrates traditional transmission and ritual models
outline of the handbook, its elements, and interrelations.

MEDIA, STRUCTURE AND AGENCY

At least since the self-consciously titled ‘Ferment in the Field’ issue of the Journal of Communication (1983), there has been a recognition within media and communication research that the diverse theoretical and methodological sources of the field, in the social sciences and in the humanities, hold a significant potential for consolidation through integration. Toward this end, one comprehensive conceptual framework is available in the work of Giddens (1984), even if its particular relevance for media remains to be developed (for assessments, see Bryant and Jary 1991; Held and Thompson 1989). His structuration theory is, first and foremost, a meta-theory which seeks to move both empirical and theoretical studies beyond certain entrenched dualisms from more than a century of social and cultural research, including subjectivist or objectivist, interpretive or causal, hermeneutic or materialist, micro- or macro-approaches to society and culture.

The key to Giddens’ integrative move is the notion of a ‘duality of structure, ’ which defines

human agency and social structure each as an enabling condition of the other. Human agency, accordingly, is not the manifestation of any free will, as exercised by individuals or collectivities, nor is social structure a set of external constraints on their action. Instead, social subjects and social systems must be seen as continually reproducing and, to a degree, reforming each other, and they interact, not as abstract principles, but in concrete practices and contexts: ‘structure exists … only in its instantiations in such practices and as memory traces orienting the conduct of knowledgeable human agents’ (Giddens 1984:17). To exemplify, the press consists simultaneously of its structural properties - its economic, legal, technological, as well as cultural-conventional permanence - and of the myriad activities of journalists, advertisers, regulators, and audiences who both maintain and contest these properties. Like other social institutions, the press, and the media as

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A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Part I - History 13
  • 2 - The Humanities in Media and Communication Research 15
  • 3 - Media, Culture and Modern Times 40
  • Part II - Systematics 59
  • 4 - The Production of Media Fiction 62
  • 5 - The Production of News 78
  • 6 - The Study of International News 91
  • 7 - Discourses of Fact 98
  • 8 - Mediated Fiction 117
  • 9 - Media Effects 138
  • 10 - Media Reception 156
  • 11 - Contexts, Cultures, and Computers 171
  • 12 - History, Media and Communication 191
  • Part III - Practice 207
  • 13 - The Quantitative Research Process 209
  • 14 - The Qualitative Research Process 235
  • 15 - The Complementarity of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies in Media and Communication Research 254
  • 16 - The Social Origins and Uses of Media and Communication Research 273
  • References 294
  • Index 326
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