Watching TV on cell phones: An investigation in a group of poor urban workers in Brazil

TitleWatching TV on cell phones: An investigation in a group of poor urban workers in Brazil
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Barros, C.
Affiliation (1st Author)Professor at the Department of Media and Cultural Studies and at the Graduate Program (M.A. and Ph.D.) in Communication of the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Section or WGAudience Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeAUDF4a
Slot Code (Keyword)AUDF4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleMobile Technologies and the Audience
Submission ID5936

This paper presents an ethnographic study focusing on appropriations of digital technologies in processes of identity elaboration and sociability in a group of poor urban workers living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fieldwork was conducted through participative observation, in-depth interviews and informal conversations, and the paper presents a discussion of some challenges of ethnographic approaches for understanding the relationship between mobile media and socialcultural life in the context of audience research. The study adopts, as a starting point, the widest possible consideration of communication rather than viewing this as reducible to the technology of its medium, meaning the attention to the complete range of communication media and information flows within a community. Television watching is traditionally understood to be a domestic activity and therefore private. The adoption of cellular phones as television platforms presages a changing role for television in the usual public/private divide. This study issues some topics of the social interaction occurrant in public spaces where TV programming can be accessed through mobile phones, particularly aspects related to collective appropriations of digital technologies. The view over the ways of interaction, existing in this context may reveal some clues regarding the development of social identities on various levels. The research results show the need for relativization of individualizing parameters for the analysis of the audience experience in a context where other logics are present. In a hybrid society such as Brazil’s, in which the tendency to establish hierarchy determines that “everyone has his place” previously defined, to be able to comment with everyone about what is seen on TV, is a special moment of unification of society, celebrating the opportunity for all to have access to the “same world”. The view over the ways of interaction existing in this case revealed how the "materiality" of specific forms of media may be studied as a mode of socialization of the subjects in the cultural context analyzed.

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