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Communications and the construction of community: Consuming the Remote Television Service in Western Australia

Green, Lelia (1998) Communications and the construction of community: Consuming the Remote Television Service in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study investigates how people living in remote and regional Western Australia (WA) responded to the start-up of the remote commercial television service. For three of the six communities investigated, this marked a first experience of in situ broadcast television.

The research began with a policy-driven construction of the audience, and a core-periphery model. It was progressed through qualitative audience studies techniques. Both constructions of the audience were found valuable, but policy research would be much richer if it routinely included more qualitative constructions of the audience such as the one offered here. Drawing upon interviews with some 140 people, the thesis argues that respondents convert broadcast programs into materials which are used to construct and express understandings of themselves, their households and their communities. The study is an adaptation and application of the Silverstone, Hirsch and Morley (1992, pp. 20-6) schema of consuming domestic technologies through appropriation, objectification, incorporation, and conversion.

Respondents were selected because of their remote or regional location and their isolation from ‘normal’ communications channels. Historically these communities have been little researched. Contributors were mainly interviewed at home or work — and ranged from adolescents through to retirees. In contrast, most benchmark Australian audience studies concentrate upon children and young people (Hodge and Tripp 1986, Noble 1975, Palmer 1986a and 1986b).

A holistic study which celebrates breadth rather than depth, this thesis analyses what respondents say about a range of central issues, as expressed through discussion of television services and broadcast programming. As well as addressing community characteristics, the account considers the household, gender, technology adoption and conversion, the building of community, and the construction of consumer culture. In summary, the traditional core-periphery dynamic is found to be overly deterministic and paternalistic, and insufficiently complex and subtle to represent the creativity of responses from people at the ‘periphery’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): O'Regan, Tom, Hodge, Bob, Miller, Toby and Ang, Ien
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