FAVz034 Ethnography of Media Production

Filozofická fakulta
podzim 2012
2/0/0. 5 kr. Ukončení: zk.
Georgina Born (přednášející)
Mgr. et Mgr. Marie Barešová, Ph.D. (pomocník)
doc. Mgr. Petr Szczepanik, Ph.D.
Ústav filmu a audiovizuální kultury - Filozofická fakulta
Kontaktní osoba: doc. Mgr. Petr Szczepanik, Ph.D.
Dodavatelské pracoviště: Ústav filmu a audiovizuální kultury - Filozofická fakulta
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Cíle předmětu
At the end of the course students should be able to: understand theoretical basis and methodological principles of ethnography of media production and explain they might be used in a practical manner.
  • Lecture and seminar outlines, and readings
  • In this group of lectures and seminars we first address ethnographic method: how to do it, and what it can reveal for the analysis of media production. In the second day we continue by looking at Bourdieu’s theory of the field of cultural production, why it has become influential in media production studies and what it adds to existing approaches, as well as its limits. Throughout, we discuss genre theory, which provides a critical means of addressing some of Bourdieu’s limits by making it possible to integrate an analysis of the organisational, historical, economic and political conditions bearing on production cultures with an analysis of the textual output – the ensuing television programmes – and their aesthetic qualities. Throughout, illustrations will be drawn from two different organisations at the heart of British television: the BBC, which receives funded public funding, and Channel 4, Britain’s second, commercially-funded public broadcaster. For fuller explanations, see pages 3-4.
  • Lecture 1 and Seminar 1: Thursday 11th October Morning lecture: powerpoint based lecture; afternoon – continuation and discussion
  • Ethnography of media production: basic principles and examples
  • Readings: 1) Either one of these 2 ethnographic chapters: G. Born, Chapter 8 ‘Creativity bound: Drama Group’, or Chapter 9 ‘Framing democracy: news, Newsnight and documentaries’, both in G. Born, Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke, and the Reinvention of the BBC (Vintage 2005)
  • 2) G. Born, ‘The social and the aesthetic: For a post-Bourdieuian theory of cultural production’, Cultural Sociology, v. 4, n. 2 (2010)
  • 3) D. Hesmondhalgh & J. Toynbee, Chapter 1 ‘Why media studies needs better social theory’ in Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee (eds.), The Media and Social Theory (Routledge, 2008)
  • Lecture 2 and Seminar 2: Friday 12th October Morning lecture: powerpoint based lecture; afternoon – continuation and discussion
  • Bourdieu and production studies: how to study institution and fields, and why we need genre theory
  • Readings: 1) G. Born, ‘Strategy, positioning and projection in digital television: Channel Four and the commercialisation of public service broadcasting in the UK’, Media, Culture and Society, v. 25, n. 6 (2003)
  • 2) P. Bourdieu, one chapter from The Field of Cultural Production (Polity 1993): either ‘Editor’s introduction: Pierre Bourdieu on art, literature and culture’, or Chapter 1 ‘The field of cultural production, or: The economic world reversed’, or Chapter 2 ‘The production of belief: Contribution to an economy of symbolic goods’
  • 3) S. Cottle, ‘Producing nature(s): on the changing production ecology of natural history TV’, Media, Culture and Society, v. 26, n. 1 (2004)
  • And for those interested to read more:
  • On Bourdieu: R. Benson & E. Neveu (eds.), ‘Introduction: field theory as a work in progress’, in Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field (Polity, 2005)
  • D. Hesmondhalgh 2006: ‘Bourdieu, the media and cultural production’, Media, Culture and Society, v. 28, n. 2 (2006)
  • On genre theory: H. R. Jauss, Chapter 1, esp. 22-45, ‘Literary history as a challenge to literary theory’, in Toward an Aesthetic of Reception (Minneapolis 1982)
  • S. Neale, Genre (British Film Institute 1980), especially pp. 7-20.
  • Informal session 1+2: Monday October 15th am
  • Interactive discussion with students: how to take the methodological insights from the two previous days to their empirical fieldwork in production companies and organisations.
  • Case study interactive ‘surgery’: several students to present 5-10 minute informal accounts of their ethnographic research on media production and problems arising, for Prof. Born to comment on and engage in dialogue.
  • Ethnographies of media production: theoretical and conceptual bases
  • Ethnography is one of the most fashionable, and most misunderstood, methodologies in the humanities and social sciences today. In media studies it is often conflated with a particular approach to audience research, hindering understanding of its potential for studying production. In these lectures and seminars, with reference to my ethnographic studies of Britain’s television industry, including production of news, current affairs, documentary and drama, and the transition to digital TV (focused on the BBC and Channel Four), as well as theoretical writings, I show how ethnographic research provides a means for transcending the dualisms that have dogged production research: political-economy and culturalist analyses, macro and micro studies.
  • These methodological arguments are not just important in themselves, but because they provide the means for (at least) three linked advances. First, in tune with the new economic sociology and against the certainties of some media political-economy, ethnography suggests that we should resist the teleological and ethnocentric assumption that we already know the contemporary dynamics of the media industries. By observing closely the political struggles over the legal and regulatory framing of media industries in different polities, as well as the increasing turn by media companies to the new ‘sciences’ of market analysis, forecasting and strategy, it becomes possible to track on the ground the evolving forces that play a formative part in ‘macro’ industry developments. Second, at the other end of the scale, ethnography illuminates the micro practices that determine why the media texts issuing from production take the form that they do by accessing producers’ creative work in particular historical, institutional, economic and political conditions. Here ethnography allows the researcher to ‘follow the actors’ so as to track the myriad judgements – aesthetic, ideological, technical, political, ethical - that are potentialised in their production practices. On this basis, ethnography enables an analysis of the evolving aesthetics of the text and so of the dynamics of genre. Third, building on these accounts of change, and in conjunction with genre theory’s attention to the interplay of repetition and difference, it is possible in turn to approach questions of innovation and value in the text – essential for normative and policy interventions.
  • I introduce a series of conceptual perspectives that underpin these ideas. First, anthropologist Marilyn Strathern’s idea of the Relation is helpful in pointing to the importance of relational analyses in ethnography that cross different scales. In addition, Paul Rabinow’s idea of ethnography as a response to ‘problematisation’ is useful, and leads the way to what, after Deleuze, might be called a ‘post-positivist empiricism’ – an empiricism with inventive conceptual effects. Third, ethnographic practice and analysis can also be enhanced by Foucault’s notion of difference as a methodological principle. Fourth, ethnographic research requires to be brought into methodological alignment with history and diachrony; again, Foucault’s work is productive here, but genre theory is also a powerful means of addressing the theorisation of both stasis and invention in aesthetic (textual) systems. Fifth, ethnography has been refigured in recent years in response to searching criticisms concerning the politics of representation raised by the reflexivity debates. Finally, ethnography makes it possible to link empirical research to both normative and policy concerns (evident in my own research). In these senses ethnography suggests ways of overcoming a series of unnecessary fragmentations that have long characterised media studies.
  • Production studies beyond Bourdieu: Digital factual and its discontents
  • What are the uses of Bourdieu’s theory of the field of cultural production for media production studies, and how can we move beyond Bourdieu? In this second lecture and seminar I suggest that Bourdieu’s relational schema offers essential conceptual tools for the analysis of production, uniting macro, meso and micro analytical levels. But it is also over rigid and lacks certain dimensions given by alternative theoretical perspectives, notably from political economy, from medium theory, and also from the historical and dynamic optic on aesthetic changes afforded by genre theory. I take these observations to address three developments in factual production studies, all evidencing distinctive and troubling kinds of generic divergence as a consequence of digitisation, divergence that is marked both textually and in production practice and apparatus. First, the digitisation of news, drawing on research on changes in the BBC’s news operations, where ‘high-end’ impartial journalism is increasingly matched by soft, personality journalism, and authoritative centralised news provision, with its codes and regulations, by the erosion of discursive limits with what might be called the ‘blog-effect’. Second, the digitisation of documentary, with reference to wildlife documentaries, where divergence of the genre takes the form of, on the one hand, a global ‘high’ economy of digital simulation and hyperreality and, on the other, a ‘low’ generic economy of reality production and the intensification of the ‘real’ and ‘live’. And third, the culmination of this latter ‘low’ economy, the tendency for outsourced ‘flexible’ production and the search for global audiences to lead to the intensification and extensification of documentary film-making as hunting or adventuring, evident in new transgressions of ethical and legal boundaries in the sensational genre of ‘tribal reality’. This might be understood as the ultimate Adornian oxymoron: destruction and contempt for alterity masquerading as humanistic identification – in reality, perhaps, a form of narcissistic self-realisation without limits.
  • Georgina Born. Uncertain vision: Birt, Dyke and the reinvention of the BBC. London: Secker & Warburg, 2004
Výukové metody
lectures and seminars
Metody hodnocení
written test
Vyučovací jazyk
Informace učitele
Teaching venues and schedule: Thursday, 11 October 2012 room: C34 (cinema auditorium) Lecture 1: 9.10 – 10.45 Seminar 1: 17.30 – 19.05 Friday, 12 October 2012 room: J31 Lecture 2: 9.10–10.45 Seminar 2: 10.50–12.25 Monday, 15 October 2012 room: C15 Informal session 1+2: 9.10‒12.25
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