Media Consumption and the Contexts of Physical Culture: Methodological Reflections on a “Third Generation” Study of Media Audiences

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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In this paper we argue that sport media research would be enhanced by: (a) engagement with the audience research tradition, including “third generation” audience studies that emphasize relationships between viewer interpretations of media and everyday social practices; and (b) the adoption of multimethod research approaches that are sensitive to contradictions and complexities that exist in media consumption. To support this argument, we reflect on the benefits of a multimethod research design used in a recent audience study conducted by the authors on youth interpretations of media and performances of masculinity in physical education (Millington & Wilson, in press). These benefits include: enriching researcher understandings of social/cultural contexts; illuminating social hierarchies; and revealing lived contradictions. We conclude with reflections on epistemological issues and suggestions for future audience projects.

Millington and Wilson are with the School of Human Kinetics, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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