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Title:Distant places and television news: A phenomenology of viewers' understandings
Author(s):Davis, Edward Hamilton
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):O'Loughlin, John
Department / Program:Geography
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mass Communications
Abstract:Empirical studies of place perceptions have until now been limited. Projects have focussed on places which are immediately present to the perceiver, such as urban landscapes, and have used methods such as sketch maps or distance estimates. These projects place unnecessary limits on the study of geographic experience, especially the understanding of distant place. The social and political nature of foreign country images should not discourage geographers from including distant place perception within the discipline's scope. Furthermore, the difficulty of doing empirical work on this topic should not intimidate geographers into using only maps or distance estimates to assure that the work appears geographic.
This project attempts to broaden the scope of place perception studies, using phenomenology to ask the following questions: How are distant places understood in the context of television news viewing? This media place experience is a very significant situation for geographers interested in distant place images, since so many people within the wealthy countries use television as their main source for information about the rest of the world. Phenomenology was used as the method in order to expand the conception of place perception, and to assure an openness to the character of the television viewers' experiences. Long open-ended interviews were conducted with twelve persons after they had watched certain newscasts. This allowed an appraisal of how place images are worked into everyday language, and how social and political beliefs help persons make sense of the media experience of distant places.
The study uncovers detailed conversation elements which represent various ideologies--nationalism, individualism, and ethnocentrism--which have significant roles in the way places are understood. The network news shows themselves are also examined, to detect how those beliefs are manifested in news show content. The connection between persons' geographic experiences and their understandings of distant places is seen to be important. This suggests that viewers use news information on places, but that they also use their own geographic experience to make sense of world geography in the everyday interactions of their lives. The politics of media portrayals of places confronts the viewer, who may or may not have certain social or biographical resources for understanding the situation. Place perception studies can be expanded and made sensitive to lived experience by conceiving ideologies such as ethnocentrism to be resources which persons may draw on, and which come from social and biographical limits on their everyday lives.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Davis, Edward Hamilton
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8916237
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8916237

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