Archive for May, 2010


The concept of identity is a very complicated one and, as a result, is difficult to define. In this week’s reading S. During makes an attempt to tackle this complex idea by saying that “they define who somebody is in terms of a trait, which might be anything from, for instance, a physical feature of the body, a belief, a genealogy or a culture preference. In effect they identify by placing individuals infot groups who share that trait. And this has a consequence: it means that identity is won at the price of reducing individuality” ( During 145).  He suggests that identities are not descriptive of what a person is as a whole but rather a list of characteristics they posses. We might not feel that these traits are good indicators of who we are as individuals but they are crucial to how the rest of the world perceives us. Because our identities are so important it seems unfair that many these identifiers are characteristics we have no control over including gender, age, nationality, etc.   During comments on the importance of these traits: “because individuals exist socially in and through their identities, without an identity there is no such thing as a socially situated individual” (During 145). In her post Natasha makes a good point about our social identities. She suggests that we would describe ourselves a certain way and would assume that those close to us (family, friends, etc.) would describe is in similar ways, perhaps with less depth. However, words used to describe us and make up our identity could be completely different if you were to ask someone that hated you. Which of these would be a proper definition of your identity? A combination of the two? Neither-because a list of traits can never truly define a person?  This is why I think identity is such a complicated term. During suggests that identities are only partial and that no trait or group of traits could ever fully define a person.

The importance of identities in media is two fold. First, advertisers gear certain campaigns to a particular group. This encompasses not only the people who actually fit in this group but also those who aspire to it. For example, Nike could launch a basketball shoe with the primary target of athletic, African-American, wealthy males in their 20s and tailor their ads to catch the attention of this group. Not only is the media identifying a target group through a list of traits but also asking the public to self-identify and determine whether they are or want to be in that group. The second way that the media uses identities is through branding. The brand that immediately comes to mind is Apple. People who use Apple products identify themselves as hip and technologically savvy. Whether people realize it or not, this “identity” of an Apple user is carefully crafted by the company itself. A great example of this is the series of commercials known as “I’m a Mac vs. I’m a PC”. Here is the link to one of many of these ads: . In this, an every advertisement, the “PC” is an older, over weight, nerdy looking man who represents a “lame” computer. On the other hand the “Apple” is a happy, fit and energetic young man who represents a “cool” computer. It is obvious that anyone would prefer to be the man that plays the “Mac” as opposed to the man that plays the “PC”. Through these adds, Apple is hoping that the consumer will want to ascribe to the identity created by their brand and purchase their product in order to be seen in a more positive light by their peers because they are now part of a select group of “Apple Users”.



Identities was a very interesting concept for me to read, as it was something we all believe is true but we are not sure why. The first paragraph of S. During’s article states that “Identities are conceptually more complex then they may first appear. From one point of view, they define who somebody is in terms of a trait, which might be anything from, for instance, a physical feature of the body, a belief, a genealogy or a cultural preference”. This is an interesting concept as one would believe it would be harder to describe identity than in a handful of words. More interestingly so, one’s personal describable identity should be stronger than that of others ideas about your identity. However, this is not so.

Take for example me, the selection of traits I use to describe myself should be more appropriate and believe than that say of my best friends. I would describe myself as a nice, solid, care-free, open person whom strongest physical attribute is being short. When I rang my best friend Pete and asked for his description of me – my identity, he said “ummm you’re short and always there when I need you”.  Obviously there is not much of a difference in my opinion of myself and my best friend, as his my best friend and hopefully sees the best in me. But what happens if I asked someone who disliked me, I am sure there opinion would differ quiet dramatically. So my question is this. Why do we try so hard to get everyone to like us, and care so much about what other people think about us? Why does self- identity rank so much lower than other peoples perceived identities of us.

Secondly, if identity is so complex, like S During says, why do people only use a handful of words to describe it? An example is how I described myself previous – I used the words nice, open and care-free.  Since everyone is unique and an individual, how come the whole word uses common words to describe themselves? Words such as “nice” or “happy”, these are words that EVERYONE uses to describe themselves. Leaving everyone seemingly similar and taking out the uniqueness and individuality from life.

A. Hearn also brings up an interesting point in his article. That is the concept of self-branding, identity and advertising. A. Hearn describes the relationship between self-branding, identity and advertising as “The face or identity of a brand works to establish a relationship with the consumer”. Branding in advertising is not something unknown or shocking to us. Examples such as Myer branding their logo to Jennifer Hawkins, David Jones to Miranda Kerr, Elephants with Optus, as well as associations such as purple and Cadbury.

 Many concepts about identity were discussed in the articles. However these three i believe are the most important. I believe that no longer is identity and individual, unique thing. But rather an association of concepts fabricated together to create a “norm”, a norm which drive society to act, interpret and analyse in exactly the same way.

Hope it makes sense,

Love Natasha Boustani xx


“Identities define who somebody is in terns of a trait, it can be anything from something physical to psychological. In effect they identify by placing individuals intro groups who share that trait. And this has a consequence: it means that identity is won at the price of reducing individuality”. With this quote I think we can understand what is the text about, is like how does society builds up your identity and how you can lose your individuality by being part of a group. This is a great discourse in psychology today, like how people since they are born have a post-it like a tag that describes them, but in most of the cases that tag its not even you and you have to act like it because you start believing you are like that. For example, when you have two children, and you always mark differences among them so when the “smart one” gets a bad grade its such a problem and if the kid doesn’t want to get good grades anymore he would have to because its his “identity”. What I’m trying to say its that we lose our individuality and carry a personality that its not totally ours. “People identify with their identities to a greater or lesser degree because identities constitute framework of their lives…It is important to distinguish between given or inherited identities…” – During S. Why do you have to inherit an identity, in some ways its good because your born being someone and part of something, but this makes your individuality smaller. This text was a good way to carry us to the next ones, because now we know what does identity means for them and how is related with media. For example in the text “Variations on the branded self” its so interesting to see how far media has gone. “The face or identity of a brand works to establish a relationship with the consumer… Self branding illustrates how flexible corporate capital has subsumed all areas of human life, including the very concept of a private self.” – Hearn A. Self branding describes the process in which consumers match their own self-concept with the images of a certain brand. So now they are brands for each type of public. You can see this link In the last text we can see how media equals control in all aspects. For example when they said that this early generations are the most watched, how can this not be true, now every kid has a mobile phone, in some nurseries they have cameras so you can watch your kid from work, and if you leave your kid home you also have cameras to watch him. Media is like an addict cycle, we get more media each time and now we need more and more. Another interesting concept they talk about its “adults, not youth, design and produce youth entertainment media”. And it’s the first time I stop to think about this and its completely true. Adults always blame youth that our T.V. shows, videogames, etc. are not like they were in their times, and that all that violence its making us harder and more violent. But now I realize that we didn’t claim for that stuff they gave it to us. So its not what we want or we are looking for, its what they are offering us. And all this it’s a consequence of our identity. “Intentionally or unintentionally, game designers provide role models on which young players may base their behavior and self image.” This construct youth identities. So I agree when they said “commercial interests and the mass media have not behaved responsibly toward youth”. They are a lot of important concepts in this articles but for me these one were the most.

writing a qualitative research report `Liamputtong, P.

This week’s readings brought up facts and helpful hints to help us with our major assessment- Our research report.
In ‘writing a qualitative research report’, Liamputtong talks about the difference between qualitative writing and quantitative writing, outlines the styles of research report, number of techniques to write a good research report whilst including a discussion about writing for publication.

He states the difference between qualitative and quantitative writing, by first telling us what they are:

“A quantitative report consists of a concise presentation of the methods and result of the study. Qualitative writing, on the other hand, ‘must be a convincing argument systematically presenting data to support the researcher’s case and to refute alternative explanations'”

This pretty much gives us a head start as he gives us a clear definition in how our report should be. He goes on talking about features of a qualitative report and how they help us write the report, such as qualitative data which ” gives the writer freedom to use literary devices to keep the reader’s interest and accurately translating a meaning system for the reader”

After that, he asks us to think of our target, who are we writing for? and who do we want to read it as qualitative research are written differently for each target audience. He then tells us the structure in which we should write in and how we should use our articles in which he encourages us to use not one, but many.

In a sense, this article is really useful to read when writing our report as it works as a layout of a qualitative report. It encourages planning and efficiency, in addition, it is easy to follow and understand. By reading this, it helps in many ways and if not read, then clearly you’re missing out on some very good help in hand.


Research Interviewing

Weerakkody’s “Research Interviewing” provides us with a detailed description of what a qualitative research interview should entail. First the author classifies the three types of research interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. It is important to know which type of interview you wish to conduct because that determines the questions you prepare on your interview protocol or guide.

Structured Interview: All respondents are asked the same questions in the same order. The questions can be close-ended or open-ended but often carry the point of view of the researcher, not the respondent. The best time to used the structured interview is when the researcher wants to compare the findings between research subjects on the basis of demographics in relation to their response.

Semi-structured Interview: This type of interview is similar to the structured interview with slight variation. The researcher prepares a list of open-ended questions to ask the subject but, in this case, they have the freedom to add new questions or change the original order of the questions. Semi-structured interviews are a combination of the researcher and the interviewee’s point of view.

Unstructured Interview: The unstructured interview is different from the other two due to the fact that it lacks (no surprise here) structure. In these interviews the researcher prepares an interview protocol that includes topic areas to cover rather than specific questions. This means that each interview can take a different path, at the discretion of the researcher depending on the specific characteristics of the respondents. Unstructured interviews are often used in less formal settings such as field interviews.

In addition to the three types of interviews, Weerakkody also breaks down three types of interview questions: descriptive, structural and contrast.

Descriptive: Descriptive questions “seek to collect [respondents] opinions using their own words, providing a ‘general grand tour’ of the topic or phenomenon under study” (Weerakkody 169). The author suggests that these are often posed ad the beginning of the interview to begin the conversation and get the respondent thinking about the topic

Structural: Structural questions are different from descriptive questions because the researcher is looking for specific details rather than a general overview. These questions, intended to elicit certain information are included in structured and semi-structured interviews.

Contrast: Contrast questions ask the respondent to compare tow elements of the topic in their own words. These allow researchers to understand how different people see these different aspects and what meaning they hold for each person.

To further the discussion of research interviews the author presents the fourteen elements of the interview process. While it would be exhaustive to go through each it is important to note that they range from preparation before the interviewees to developing rapport with interviewees to analyzing interview data and finally a discussion of accuracy, validity reliability and generalizability of findings.

This article was important because it gave us a very detailed framework for what is expected in a quantitative research interview. This is especially useful for our major assessment. I know that I plan to conduct an interview with my research subject to follow up on his media diary. This article helped me to determine that, even though I will only be interviewing one subject, I will create my interview protocol on the basis of a semi-structured interview. I have specific questions that I want answered but I also want to give my subject the freedom to expand on certain points and see where the conversation takes us. I will most likely include descriptive and structural questions. This article is helpful not only for this assignment but future research endeavours

Signs and Meanings`Schirato & Yell

This week’s reading was quite interesting, it talks about the the relationship between signs and meanings.
In the introduction, the authors state that

“meanings are not just ‘out there’ waiting to be identified or discovered, but are ‘read into’ signs”

I find this really intriguing as its common sense that all signs have meaning, but the fact that they state that “meanings are read into signs” make it sound more complicated than it really is. They then state that the process of reading signs
making meanings is an idealogical process.

Idealogial Process:Idealogical meaning, of or concerned with ideas and process meaning ‘the act of taking something through an established and usually routine set of procedures to convert it from one form to another’- so basically what i understood it meant was that reading signs is part of a procedure for the brain to interpret the meaning using certain known ideas to create or find a meaning to that sign.

This lead me to believe that there is no way that one sign has oen meaning, but it has many menaings as everyone will interpepret the sign differently for example what do you think when you see this?

Obviously, it’s a well known sign. Some people may think ” McDonald’s” others may think, ‘fat food’, kids may think ‘fun time’ and so on you get my point.

The reading goes on to incorporating simpsons and bill clinton into the article, talking about how people interpret things differently such as the word “violence”  as they talk about marge censoring the Itchy and scratchy show but believing that the nudie statue of david to be appropiate . Here they state the point that words can also mean differently to people, stating that what ” words really mean is usually a matter of negotiation, disagreement or conflict”

They then go on to introduce the word “semiology” which is also known as the science of signs to describe the development of new theories about meaning, now known as semiotics which was intially proposed by Saussure who was primarily interested in linguistic sign which he seperated into three aspects signifier, signified and sign.

“He insisited that linguistic sign is not a link between a thing and a name, but between a sound concept and a pattern. He used the term signified to refer to the concept and the temr signifier to refer to the sound pattern. “

which is a bit like 1+1=2.


Schirato and Yell – Signs and Meaning

In our reading this week, we discuss the idea of signs and meanings. Personally I believe this is a very interesting concept and relates to advertising in a number of ways.

There is no dispute that advertisements play a critical role in current society. The roles range from trying to influence people to go and buy something they probably do not need; to eating a particular product for dinner; some may even argue that advertising industries go as far as creating socials “norms”. My fellow blogger jocyaizpuru incorporates this idea of advertising and society quiet neatly into her blog, stating “throughout the time, it has become implicitly understood by the public that advertising has the right to own, occupy and control every inch of available space”.

With such an undisputable “hold” on society, one must ask themselves how broadcasting networks became to be so influential. What tactics do advertisers use to try and influence people’s minds? When I think about the question, I come to an obvious answer. Advertisers use pictures, words, and other objects when marketing their object to convey a specific message to their audience. This message then evokes an emotional response in the person, which leaves the person almost yearning to want to feel like the person does in the advertisement. In order for this to work, broadcasting companies rely on the fact that a large audience will feel the same emotion from the same advertisement. However after reading Schirato and Yell I am not so sure the influence of a broadcasting network over society is so simple anymore.

Schirato and Yell created a piece of writing in the 21st century which looks at the relationship between signs and meanings. They propose (like many before them) that reading a sign, or looking at an advertisement and deciphering its meaning is not something that comes naturally, but rather “an ideological process”. In their article they talk about Ferinand de Saussure, a pioneer contributor to language and meaning. Not only do Schirato and Yell draw some parallels to Saussure articles, they too argue against some of his points.

Saussure’s first theory is that of “semiology” or the science of signs. He theories that the “notion of meaning is relational rather than substantive”. In laymen’s terms, this means that meanings are not inherent, but rather created by society. Saussure then goes onto state the division of “semiology” or what he called linguistic sign. He divided it into 3 aspects; they were Signifier, Signified and the sign. Where the signifier is the physical form of the sign; the signified is the concept evoked by the word; and the sign is a combination of the signifier and the signified.

To further push Saussure’s idea of meaning being created by society, we can think about the idea that different cultures perceive the same word differently. Examples of this can be found on page 240 of Schirato and Yell with the word “invasion”. Schirato and Yell ask the question “Was Australia “invaded” by Europeans or was it “settled”? Both these words are used interchangeably when discussing the History of Australia and ultimately neither are wrong or right. Although the word “invasion” too many people elects a much more negative emotion then the word “settled”, both can be used when explaining the British arrival in Australia. To the Indigenous population, I’m sure they believe “Invasion” is the more appropriate term. However to the British, “settlement” is more appropriate.

Although Saussure puts forward many interesting theories, I have to side with Schirato and Yell and agree that many of his theories have “holes in them” so to speak. Saussure argues the point of intentionality and that “every sign had to be put together and sent by someone”. I do not believe this is the case – hence the existence of the word Coincidence. Schirato and Yell put forward a good dispute to this, their example of the only clean shirt available (as seen on my fellow blogger megodonnell blog, is indicative to this).

Overall, the interpretation of signs and meanings are never going to be identical for every person. This means broadcasting companies must find a way around this. Schirato and Yell end their article with a conclusion I believe sums up signs and meaning in a very neat way. That is that meanings come from the interpretation of signs, and that interestingly, signs by themselves are blank (i.e. have no meanings), which is undisputedly an ideological process.

Hope that makes sense,

Natasha Boustani xx