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ICA 2006

International Communication Association 2006 conference in Dresden

Practices of Media Consumption in the US and UK

The next session is a panel facilitated by Nick Coundry, which presents findings from a comparative study of media consumption practices and their effects on public connection. If voter turnout at national elections is low and in decline, and if simultaneously citizen and participatory media rises, does this lead to a greater fragmentation of media audiences and the overall citizenry? What does it feel like to be a citizen-consumer in this media environment?

First off, there still is a sense of 'public connection', an orientation of citizens towards public issues - but at the same time, this is severely altered by the changing, convergent media environment. What, indeed, constitutes the public/private distinction - it surely still exists, but in what form, and where? The UK side of this project worked with written and taped diaries, interviews, and focus groups across the UK - from this, various patterns emerged: there is a range from media world connectors to public world connectors - for the former: the sense of being a member of the media audience is the key factor, while for the letter there is a sense of connection with the public beyond the media alone. The former is not necessarily a lack, however, as there may still remain a strong family connection or other factors.

Feeling Fragmented

Dresden, Germany
For the next few weeks I'll be travelling Europe - attending the International Communication Association conference in Dresden and CATaC (Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication) in Tartu, Estonia, as well as taking the opportunity to visit some old friends and family. The first leg of the journey is now finally complete - after 30 hours flight and four hours on the train we've arrived in Dresden. This is my first time in Germany in six years, and only the second time I'm back here since I left for Australia in 2006, so I'm interested to see how the place has changed - and of course the World Cup is on as well so there's plenty else happening right now.

Convergent Trends in Media Use

Finally for today I'm in a session on convergence and networking which, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a strong representation of Korean and Japanese researchers. The first paper is by Euchiul Jung and is presented in absentia - it is motivated by the increasing flow of people, culture and information beyond national boundaries, and looks at ethnicity-based public spheres at local levels. Diasporic identity is a reconstructed and transformed cultural identity - a hybrid identity.

The paper found that new media technologies were helpful in keeping the members of such communities in touch with their cultures of origin, and increased the close connection between them and their home culture. Key media here were both the Internet, which allowed more access to information and culture from the culture of origin, and the mobile phone, which allowed for more mobility and flexibility. Both increased the intra-cultural communication within the diasporic community. This also led to a growth in the cultural politics of distinction, recognition, and identification, and allowed for the emergence of mediated, ethnicity-based public spheres and communication networks. The result was a transformed, hybridised cultural identity.


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