From Researcher to Teacher, From Participant Observer to Friend: Drawing on Media Ethnography to Study Community Radio Audiences (Thematic stream: „Researching Community Media Audiences“)
Abstract: This presentation is based on a doctoral research — a study of community radio listening in the everyday life of one Brazilian favela (Pau da Lima) located in Salvador, Brazil. However, the focus is on how rather than on what has been discovered. The aim is to discuss the methodological approach, which draws on media ethnography, and to address some of the main methodological issues that are relevant for this research.
It will be argued that the strength of media ethnography lies in its ability to provide in-depth knowledge of a ‘culture’ or environment and, at the same time, offer a holistic perspective. Clearly, a study of the role of community radio among residents of one favela demands a good degree of immersion in their daily routines.
Further, the paper looks at the three main actors involved in the fieldwork research in Pau da Lima. The presenter reflects on her own role as a researcher, explore ‘the field’ in which the research took place, and, finally, delve into issues of access and her relationship with the research participants. She recognises that being a ‘close other’ has shaped her fieldwork experience in many ways, bringing the issue of reciprocity – which is usually treated as one item among many others under ‘ethical considerations’— to the foreground of my fieldwork relations. This has informed her decision to adopt an approach to which she refer to as ‘exchange research’.