“Because of the way the human mind works, we are, in a sense, always doing research – but not always doing scientific and scholarly research.” – Berger (2014)
Humans by nature are inquisitive beings and so ‘who, what, when, where, why, how’ questions are part of everyday practice but they often aren’t overtly realised by individuals to be a form of research. This collaboration of information to guide personal decisions we make daily is the basis of scholarly research which is more specific, systematic and objective with a greater concern for knowledge about the real truth as opposed to the personal opinion.
Dominick and Wimmer (2013) have explained the two main research methods which have been adopted globally;-
- It is the interpretation and analysis of case studies, texts, media criticisms and theoretical work. Focuses more on trying to describe what happened and why and focus on economic, political and social considerations.
- Processing data collected through statistics to explain rather than interpret something. Statistical techniques are applied to gain information – utilises numbers, magnitude and measurements through experiments, content analysis, surveys, questionnaires.
These two approaches are not mutually exclusive so they can be complementary to each other as well as be used alone for a greater, in-depth understanding.
When this use of rigorous scholarly research is applied to specifically media research, it is used to better understand the role of popular culture, the media and other forms of communication in society, the role of the media in socialising people to accept rules and conventions and indoctrinating people into political and socio-economic systems, the influence of the industries that produce and distribute cultural content and the role of government in determining why and how industry and individuals might be supported and regulated (Bertrand and Hughes 2005). Media scholars draw on ideas and theories of philosophers, psychologists, social scientists, linguists, economists and educators and this multidisciplinary approach aims to offer a more well-rounded and complete analysis.
Researching the media is a huge umbrella and Berger (2014) has broken it down into 5 specific communication types:
- Intrapersonal: Communicating with ourselves, thinking about how we will respond to situations we expect to arise.
- Interpersonal: Communication between ourselves and a relatively small group of people, the conversation and interaction between all parties.
- Small group: Communication in small groups but large enough that interpersonal doesn’t occur, e.g. a teacher + classroom – a more one way rather than interaction between all students and the teacher.
- Organisational: How organisations communicate with members of the organisation and other interested parties.
- Mass Media: Communication flows from senders of messages to a large number of receivers of messages, e.g. radio, TV, film, internet and social media
As an avid user of social media with an interest in marketing and advertising, the aspect of the media in which I would like to research is how businesses have tapped into the 24/7 global connectivity that is allowed by social media and used platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to advertise to users and generate interest. I wish to highlight the effects of the mass media messages and so I would use quantitative techniques such as statistical change over time and surveys to show my results.
Berger, Arthur A. (2014) ‘’What is research?’ in Media and communication research methods: an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches’, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32.
Bertrand, I., & Hughes, W. P. T. (2005) ‘Media research methods: audiences, institutions, texts’, Palgrave, New York.
Wimmer, R., & Dominick, J. (2013) ‘Mass media research: An Introduction’, 9th ed., Cengage learning.