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


Advertising is needed to inform, direct and educate, but in its present form, it is an invasive expression of commerce.

Outdoor advertising has become unavoidable. Traditional billboards have cleared the way for more persuasive methods such as wrapped vehicles, sides of buildings, electronic signs, kiosks, taxis, posters, sides of buses, and more.

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.

Advertising is also invasive because it manipulates consumers by creating unnecessary needs, it puts ideas, thoughts, and wants into the heads of consumers.

Advertisers have now full control about the choices we make, advertising become invasive when they start manipulating you  on base of your fears or desires, when they make you feel like you’re not good enough as you are, that you have to get a product in order to be happy, when it invades your privacy via spam, junk mail, bill boards among others, when it it gives you a false idea of reality.

Also advertising is having a strong effect on children and adolescents. I found this grpahs that are impressive. 

Advertising is necessary. It gives information to the consumers. Also it stimulates the economy,

The countries in which the media advertising investment rate is highest are those in which the propensity for But consumption is also highest. But now it has become a little invasive. And its related to:




Unnecessary needs

You can see this video to undertand better my point…

Semiotics and Meaning

In this week’s reading Schirato and Yell discuss Signs and Meaning and the theories that apply to this concept. The first theory they discuss is called semiology, or semiotics, which was developed by Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Sassure’s theory contends that “there is no inate meaning attached to a language’s terms, only differences. All meaning is produced through ‘language systems’ based on a notion of difference, rather than identity” (19). The main part of his theory dealt with the linguistic sign. This was made up of a signifier, signified, sign. The signifier is the physical form of the sign, the signified is the image or idea that is “evoked” by that signifier and the sign is the combination of the two. Sassure argues that meanings are established due to an arbitrary relationship between the signifier and the signified. These meanings are not inherent, but rather created which is why different cultures have different words for the same thing in their respective languages.
Schirato and Yell go on to point out the flaws in Sassure’s theory including the signified, intentionality and the arbitrariness of meaning. The authors suggest that the signified is not really different from the signifier but rather just another signifier adding to our understanding of the concept. The second problem is that of intentionality. Sassure argues that “every sign had to be put together and sent by someone” (21). Schirato and Yell point out that there are plenty of signs that are not intended. For example, a shirt may have words that convey a meaning, but if the only reason you are wearing it is because it was the only clean thing that you had than you didn’t really intend to “send the message”. The third problem is with Sassure’s concept of arbitrariness. The author’s argue that while menaing is not natural, it is not simply arbitrary but rather motivated and political. They mention Nietzche and say that “the production of meaning is always, first and foremost, a sign of power” (22).
The other theorist examined in this article is Marxist, V.N. Volosinov. His main argument is that signs are “adaptable, carry a history of meanings, can be used in different ways in different contexts, the production of meaning is always open, always a struggle” (26). I have done some work in other courses on semiotics mostly relating to the visual, rather than linguistic, which reminds me more of Volosinov’s definition. I have studied how symbols can carry different, created, meanings depending on the time and place in which they are used. This is true of the swastika. In some cultures it is considered a religious symbol. Most of the world sees it as a symbol of Nazi Germany with very negative connotations. This is an example of how those in power were able to change the meaning of a certain symbol.

Media Audiences

where we read Research Questions for the evolving communications Landscape by Leslie Haddon.

This weeks readings was a perfect example of somehting that seemed like a chore. Throughout reading this article, i half  fell asleep and had to force myself to read the whole thing. I guess its not the fact that its “boring” but the fact that understand it quite well just like the first few articles that i read when we first started this course.

Haddon talks about communication practices as a repertoire. For those who don’t know what this word means, those like me, i googled up the word and this is what came up:

the entire stock of works existing in a particular artistic field

Ah, see media exists even when we try to think of what to write!

The good thing about this reading is that it breaks in down by stating the questions and answering them under the following sub-heading, this made it alot easier to udnerstand and read.
Haddon states the boundaries of communication-related Pratices or “communication repertoires” as she puts it. Haddon states that communication is often thought as an exchange of words or information between people” which makes me realise that i, myself think of communication in that way. She uses the example of a mobile phone to show that communictaion is not only an exchange of words or information between people but that is has a broader aset of actions than we know, which we can use to modify the communication act, such as the way we switch off our mobbased on historical ile phone before we sleep to block people out from our wake, or who our number is given to. Haddcon then expresses her thoughts that these types of action “may be considered to be a part of an expanded definition of use”.

The second part of the article is based on the history of the practices as she goes on by stating where the practices actually come from. In which she asks how ‘new’ these practices are actually. Which brings me to the same point stated in my last blog, media has been around for quite some time, which means that these concepts are not old, but not new either as they may have applied to the exact same thing just less technological advanced things. We grew up in a world where all these concepts are not known, but are unconsciously known as in some way they all apply to us without knowing especially those who don’t study these subjects, i mean how many of you actually knew these concepts before we learnt them?

So, in a world where we grew up with these concepts, how new are they really?


Media Audiences

This week’s articles dealt with the evolution of media, specifically media audiences. In his article, Nick Couldry examines Abercrombie and Longhurst’s theory of audiences and adds his own interpretation. Couldry begins the article by relaying the three challenges associated with audience research. These challenges are technology, social/spatial and experience. As my fellow bloggers have both covered this aspect of the article I won’t go into it too much other than to say that the constant changes in technology, social/spatial and experience create a constantly evolving audience base that is almost impossible to define.
While describing the social/spatial challenge Couldry says that the changes to media technologies inevitably change the “locations” of the audience. He mentions the three
phases of audience development as argued by Abercrombie and Longhurst. The audiences are as follows:
1. ‘simple audience’ which he describes as “co-presence of performers and audiences”
2. ‘mass audience’ of newspapers, television, etc. from the late nineteenth century to mid twentieth century
3. ‘diffused audience’ which is applicable in contemporary times and describes the state of being “almost permanently connected to one electronic medium or another, across almost every activity of social and private life”(186).
As part of their theory, Abercrombie and Longhurst suggest that the distinction between audience and performers is falling away in the world of the diffused audience. With the boom of reality television, they argue, more ‘ordinary’ people are on television. This not only increases the likelihood of one being on television but allows them to identify with the non professional media performers. While they will most likely never be on television, some one “like the” was.
Couldry disagrees with some of Abercrombie and Longhurst’s theory. He believes that “in a world where media signals are everywhere (so in that sense the audience is “diffused”) , the differences between audience members and media performers have come to matter more, not less” (196). As a result, he wants to change the term “diffused audience” to “extended audience”. Couldry admits “diffused audience” is a good way to understand how advances in media have led audience experience to be both “widely shared and highly differentiated” but says that does not tell the whole story. He believes “extended audiences” more accurately represents the current condition because it does not ignore the power relations present in media. He believes that the line between media professionals and audience members has been intensified with the development of the audience.
I think this interpretation makes a lot of sense. While it may seem that the ever increasing presence of the audience translates into a transfer of power that is not necessarily the case. While members of the audience participate in media either appearing on reality television shows like Real World or Big Brother or voting on American Idol as mentioned in another article it is still the media companies that are in control. They are ultimately the ones that make the decisions on what media content is even available to for the audiences to consume.