Thematic guide: media studies (using qualitative data)

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"The media is not only reflective of culture it also has the power to shape culture"

 From the introduction of printed mass media in the 1850s, to the introduction of the television in the 1950s, to rapidly expanding new technologies and the rise of the internet over the last two decades, the mass media continues to dominate, influence and epitomise modern life at a national and global level.

The media and its effects have driven critical debate, evoked ethical arguments and created new challenges for society, which have all been of great interest to sociologists.

The media is not only reflective of culture it also has the power to shape culture. The way in which mediated culture reflects and affects an audience is dependent on complex social factors including social class, values and beliefs.

Studies on media in the UK Data Service's qualitative collections have focused on a diverse range of topics such as television viewing, the internet, security, parental regulations of media use, consumption, lifestyles and news.

Examples from our collections include Jackson, Stevenson and Brooks’s study 'Consumption, Lifestyle and Identity: Reading the New Men's Lifestyle Magazines, 1985-1997', which looked at how masculine identity was shaped through the media, in particular through magazines.

Livingstone and Bober’s study 'United Kingdom Children Go Online, 2003-2005', explored the implications of internet usage amongst young people and how the internet has had a dramatic impact upon social relationships, education and family life.

Searching for related materials

The Discover catalogue can be searched for data on media studies using subject terms such as:

  • media culture
  • television
  • consumption
  • leisure
  • journalism
  • press
  • news
  • internet
  • communication
  • mass media

Every data collection is accompanied by comprehensive documentation. These are open access and available to the public from the website and media1.gifit is not necessary to be a registered user to access and download them.

The content of the documentation varies by collection, but usually includes information such as the initial proposal, interview schedule, description of methodology, end of award report, and so on.

In some cases, more details are provided such as the coding schemes of the original researchers or examples of the consent forms used.


Other resources on media studies

Doing Media Studies:


Family and media:

Summary of selected qualitative studies on media

Study name Coverage Topics
SN 5631 Media Consumption and the Future of Public Connection, 2004-2005
Couldry, N., Markham, T. and Livingstone, S.
This project focused on whether and how people's practices of media consumption give them the resources to connect to wider public spaces. The research explored the ways in which people's practices as media consumers were connected (or not) to their practices as citizens.
Sample: media consumers resident in the United Kingdom
Data: 42 diarists and interviewees; 1,017 respondents to quantitative survey
  • consumption
  • political awareness
  • television/radio
  • newspapers
  • internet/email
SN 6126 Shifting Securities: Television News Cultures Before and After the Iraq War, 2003-2005
Gillespie, M.
This qualitative data collection examined changing relationships between government, media and multicultural publics in the UK. The project examined how changing practices of news production in an increasingly competitive transnational news environment affect the quality of political journalism and judgements about the legitimacy, credibility, ethics and salience of 'security' policy.
Sample: news viewers, news makers, and security policy-makers in India, Ireland, United Kingdom and United States
Data: 75 semi-
structured interview transcripts; 100 focus group transcripts
  • mass media
  • security
  • news
  • multiculturalism
  • citizenship
  • legitimacy
SN 4543 Consumption, Lifestyle and Identity: Reading the New Men's Lifestyle Magazines, 1985-1997
Jackson, P. Stevenson, N. and Brooks, K.
This study aimed to explore the new generation of men's lifestyle magazines, which emerged since the mid-1980s. The researchers sought to examine specific forms of masculinity as they varied by place, class, ethnicity and generation, and also to assess the extent to which variations in the magazines' content and the way they are read by different groups of men can be explained according to competing sociological theories of masculinity and the media. A teaching dataset is also available: SN 6964.
Sample: readers and editors of men's magazines
Data: 25 interviews (20 focus group, 5 individual)
  • men's lifestyle magazines
  • gender
  • mass media
  • consumption
  • identity
SN 5593 Photographs Leave Home: a Study of the Impacts of Personal Photography Online, 2004-2005
Cohen, K.
This research explored how the new presence of millions of personal photographs online is changing how people understand images and themselves through images, and conversely, how those photographs are changing the way space on the internet is understood and used.
Sample: individuals in the United Kingdom who put their personal photographs on the internet between 2004 and 2005
Data: 40 interviews
  • photography
  • photoblogs
  • the internet community
SN 6525 Impact of the Depiction of Work in Television Drama on Young People's Career Aspirations and Choices, 2007-2008
Mendick, H. and Williams, K.
This study explored the ways that young people make sense of the representations of work and workers in television drama, how they use these to construct identities as future workers and how class, gender and ethnicity intersect with these processes.
Sample: 14 to 16 year-olds in England in their final two years of schooling
Data: 31 individual interviews; 18 focus groups
  • television
  • career aspirations
  • identity
  • gender
  • class
SN 5475 United Kingdom Children Go Online, 2003-2005
Livingstone, S. and Bober, M.
Many United Kingdom households, especially those with children, now have access to the internet although, importantly, some do not. This project looked at the growing significance of the internet in peoples’ lives and looked at how this raises many questions for social scientists, policy makers and the public - about access and inequalities, the nature and quality of use, the implications for education, family life and social relationships and the balance between online risks and opportunities.
Sample: 9 to 19 year-olds and their parents in the United Kingdom
Data: qualitative: 27 focus groups; 13 semi-structured family visit interviews; 11 online panel chat logs quantitative: 1,511 respondents
  • inequalities and the digital divide
  • education
  • identity
  • parental regulation of media use

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