This week, you’ll do some ethnographic field research by observing


This week, you’ll do some ethnographic field research by observing and taking notes.  Spend one day documenting your media consumption, from the time you get up to the time you go to sleep.  

Keep track of:

  • What forms of media do you consume: TV, radio, print media, Internet, video games
  • What types of media: mass media, social media
  • How long do you spend?
  • What is the general content?  News, entertainment, homework platforms, online shopping, etc. 

In your notes, document the “media messages” you receive in the course of the day. By “media message”, I mean each separate instance of media consumption or each time you shift your media focus.  For instance, if you’re watching the news on TV, you might consider a half-hour news program two kinds of messages: “news” and “commercials.”   If you’re online checking different social media sites, that could all count as one.

For EACH media message that you document, identify its MAIN function: Does it socialize, enforce a social norm, confer status, or promote consumption? If you believe a single message performs multiple functions, you can check multiple functions 

Keep a record and tally (literally COUNT) the results. Need help keeping a record?  You may download and use the worksheet posted in this week’s Moodle folder or take notes of your own.   

Initial Post Instructions

  1. Describe your overall results.  What kinds of media did you consume, and what functions were present?  Be as specific as possible – include counts or categories from your notes. (Optional, but encouraged: attach your record/notes to this post). 
  2. Using your sociological imagination, identify at least three demographic or cultural factors that are likely to influence patterns of media consumption (what people consume, how much, etc.).  How do you think these factors influence your own consumption habits?
  3. In your tally of the functions of media messages, which function was most common (showed up most frequently)?  Explain how the media messages you observed performed this function, using at least two specific examples.  (For instance, how did a news story confer status?  How did an Instagram ad promote consumption?)

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