Anthropology of media  

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Anthropology of media (also anthropology of mass media, media anthropology) is an area of study within social or cultural anthropology that emphasizes ethnographic studies as a means of understanding producers, audiences, and other cultural and social aspects of mass media.



The use of qualitative methods, particularly ethnography, distinguishes media anthropology from other disciplinary approaches to mass media. Within media studies, media ethnographies have been of increasing interest. However these have often not followed anthropological approaches to ethnography like participant observation and long term fieldwork. These differences mean that anthropologists who take an interest in the media see themselves as a subfield distinct from ethnographic approaches in media studies and cultural studies.


The anthropology of media is a fairly inter-disciplinary area, with a wide range of other influences. The theories used in the anthropology of media range from practice approaches, attributable to theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu, as well as discussions of the appropriation and adaptation of new technologies and practices. Theoretical approaches have also been picked up from visual anthropology and from film theory as well as from studies of ritual and performance studies (e.g. dance and theatre). Theoretical discussions have also been picked up from studies of consumption, audience reception in media studies, new media and network theories, theories of globalisation, theories of international civil society, and discussions of participatory communications, and governance from development studies.

Ethnographic contexts

The types of ethnographic contexts explored in the anthropology of media range from the production of media: ethnographies of newsrooms in newspapers, journalists in the field, film production and so on, as well as reception studies, following audiences in their responses to media. Other types include cyber anthropology, a relatively new area of internet research, as well as ethnographies of other areas that happen to include media, such as development work, social movements, health education. This is in addition to many classic ethnographic contexts, where media such as radio, the press, new media and television have started to make their presences felt.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Anthropology of media" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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