Two Methodological Contributions to Studying Diasporic Media Use: Positioning Family as a Unit of Analysis and Conducting Life History Interviews

TitleTwo Methodological Contributions to Studying Diasporic Media Use: Positioning Family as a Unit of Analysis and Conducting Life History Interviews
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Dixon, L., and J. D. Straubhaar
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Texas at Austin
Section or WGDiaspora and Media Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeDIAW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)DIAW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomC165
Session TitleTransnationalism and media use
Submission ID6745
Abstract

Using case study research, this paper seeks to contribute two theoretical / methodological points to the study of diasporic media usage in the United States. First, this paper argues that it is important methodologically to situate the multi-generational family as a key unit of analysis, instead of relying only on analysis of the individual, in order to understand homeland media use in immigrant families and conscious family strategies for social mobility and language maintenance. Secondly, the method of a two-part interview process—one that examines media use and one that examines its context in life history in the form of education, social mobility, occupation, and language—reveals the connections between perceptions of national and cultural identity to media use. This would not be possible only using a media-focused interview. Although not universal and not intended to be normative--as many people have broken contact with families or have been excluded from family networks over issues such as gender, sexuality, religion, and more--these factors are important and become a notable pattern for many immigrants who remain connected to families over time. The evidence for this argument derives from a series of interviews conducted in 2005-2012, building on a ten-year project to interview Austin immigrant families about their media use. The interviews were multi-generational within families, which allowed for a more complete picture of media use and conceptions of identity within generations. The case studies, which focus on Brazilian, Argentine, and Chinese families that immigrated to Texas, explore in depth the perceptions of cultural and national identity in the families as well as media usage patterns and motivations for homeland media use.In our studies, the youngest generation’s use of homeland media depended largely on both their personal relationships with their parents and grandparents, their elders’ media use, and their elders’ deliberate strategies. The youngest generation largely prefers U.S. media, but the influence of their family members, through their own media use and otherwise, still encourages a connection to homeland media. The “influence from below” (deCerteau) of family plays a major role in determining the media use of the youngest generation. Moreover, the “habitus” (Bourdieu) of the individual toward homeland media use is determined largely by the family relationships. The multiple layers of identity (Straubhaar) in the youngest generation affect their media usage. These insights were made possible by the methods mentioned above: positioning the family as a key unit of analysis and conducting both a media use interview and a life history interview.

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