Introduction and General information
The book ‘Talk on Television : Audience Participation and Public Debate ‘ is based on original research study by Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt. The book was firstly published in 1994 by Routledge Publisher in Communication and Society Series. It also available in electronic format since 2006
The authors of this book are Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt, well-known researchers who originally examine the role of Talk show TV program and its political function.
Sonia Livingstone is a professor of Social Psychology at London School of Economics, and Political Science. She has written and edited a number of books and academic journals in media and cultural studies as well as social psychology field including audience reception and mediated communication, media literacy, children and online media, public participation and media regulation. Her research interest is focusing on both broadcasting media and new media. (Livingstone and Lunt,1996)
Peter Lunt is a professor of Media and Communication at University of Leicester. Throughout his academic career, he has been interested in Media consumption research which is related to popular culture and identity. (Livingstone and Lunt,1996)
The reason that I interested in this book is because it based on original research that I could access to its methodology and theoretical framework. Although, ‘Talk on Television : Audience Participation and Public Debate ‘ is a book in Communication and society series, the key features are overlap in sociology arena. As the researchers point out, the studio production of audience discussion programmes can be research fieldwork where communication and interaction among all participants are observed. Therefore, in my opinion, this book could be one of the examples of interdisciplinary research study.
This book is divided into 6 main parts
Chapter 1 Television talk and talking about television.
This chapter illustrates the overview of the whole book. The authors also explain main objectives of writing this book. In addition, research and theoretical framework have been mentioned because all content in this book based on empirical research about the contribution of audience discussion program towards the mediated society.
Chapter 2 The mass media, democracy and the public sphere.
The second chapter draws on theoretical concept of Public Sphere by Jergen Habermas, German sociologist. The concept of Public Sphere had been firstly introduced in German version Habilitationsschrift, Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit:Untersuchungen zu einer Kategorie der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft. before translated to The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere – An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. The notion of Habermas’s Public Sphere have been employed to be studied in multidisciplinary research for example mass media studies, political communication, social science research.
Chapter 3 Studio debates and audience discussion: a television genre
This chapter is mainly focus on the diversity of participants in audience discussion programs. This chapter is focus on audience’s interpretation of the program content.
Chapter 4 The critical viewer
This chapter consider argumentation in active audience study and its critical point of views. The authors attempt to explore the way in which home and studio audience response to the TV programs
Chapter 5 Media construction of expertise and common sense.
Chapter 6 Media management of argument and rhetoric.
Chapter 7 Studio discussions, social spaces and postmodernity.
Research question / objective of study
In the book ‘Talk on Television : Audience Participation and Public Debate ‘ , Livingstone and Lunt present sophisticated argument about audience discussion program and its democratic, societal and value function towards active participants from their the concrete research studies. The authors describe the objective of their study as follows:
‘we examine the value and significance of public discussion and debate on television. More and more people, members of the general public and so-called experts, are appearing on television and radio to discuss and debate the issues of the day. Is any purpose served by these discussions or are they simply entertainment programs designed to fill schedules? Why do people go on television and what kind of discussion and debate result? Why do the broadcast media increasingly offer opportunities for participation and how do they manage the arguments, which take place’ (Livingstone and Lunt, p.1)
The researchers attempt to address such questions by interviewing TV viewers and studio participants about the role of broadcasting media in order to encourage political participation, democratic discussion and citizen discourse. Livingstone and Lunt also address the research question and sub-questions as follows:
‘Is this a new form of public space or forum, part of a media public sphere? Or is this a travesty of real political debate with no real consequences? Do such a program offer new opportunities to the public to question established power or are the programs part of a media diversion from the real political and social action?
In this research, it can be assumed that ‘the studio production of audience discussion program’ is the ‘field of study’ in the research. Livingstone and Lunt (1996 : p.1) illustrate the picture of their field research that the
Data collection Method
The data of the this research study had been collected by different approaches: focus group; in-depth interviews and TV program observation.
In order to examine the audience’s analytical and critical respondent, 12 group of the focus group discussion (69 respondents was divided into small group of 4-8) was set after the viewing of the selected TV program. The first to eleventh focus group were set September 1989 in Oxford. The twelfth focus group was held in Outer Hebrides during December 1991. Also, In-depth interview of 16 respondents was taken. All
To conduct focus group study, there are typical questions arise as ‘How do researchers know that they have enough raw data ? Or When researchers should end the focus group or in-depth interview?. This is because qualitative data collections including focus group or in-depth interview are significantly different from quantitative method which are promptly determined the number of sampling by statistical tool. In this research study, Livingstone and Lunt (1994) then mentioned ‘The number of focus groups was determined by continuing until comments and patterns began to repeat and little new material was generated.’ In my point of view, the sentence above is the clear answer for researchers who choose to do qualitative research methods (e.g. focus group, interview, observation) which is slightly difficult to set exactly number of sampling. Unlike, quantitative research method,
1 the phenomenological meaningful experience of social action; (2) the structural staging of that action; (3) the institutional contingencies of practical actions; (4) relations of control, authority and power ; and (5) the requirements and possibilities of resistance, of social action cast not simply as instrumental politics but as emancipatory political praxis. (Forester, 1985: x)
In Livingstone and Lunt
The sampling selection
In my point of view, it can not be denied that the reason of selecting case study in any research both quantitative and qualitative is ‘Subjective’ depending on individual’s reason. However, research study is recognized as the process of reason by its nature. So
The basic assumption of the research study including keywords
In order to present any qualitative research study, a basic assumption are one of the most important feature that researcher cannot reject. In my opinion the basic assumption in qualitative research is function as ‘the guideline for the reader’ in some sense it could be ‘researcher self-defend’ as well.
Considering the selection of audience discussion program for Livingstone and Lunt’s study, there are several points have been questioned including the small number of audience in discussion program compare to other TV genre (e.g soap opera, comedies), the limited of target audience only housewives who have time to watching TV in the morning, the trashy content only for entertainment and low cost production.
However, in Livingstone and Lunt’s point of view, the audience discussion program is valuable to be researched as they mention ‘any new form( of television program) should be studied for its own sake: the familiar must be defamiliarized through critical analysis before we can claim to understand it’. (Livingstone and Lunt, 1996: 2)
Also, the authors attempt to defend the critical argument by presenting the empirical research study. Livingstone and Lunt (1996: p.2) report that nearly 40 percent of British people always watch television before starting their daily activities in the morning when audience discussion program is shown. Moreover, the target audiences are housewives but also full time worker, retired people, unemployed people, students, part time workers and housewives as presented in table 3.3 below.
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