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Studying Communicative Ecologies: An Ethnographic Approach to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)

Tacchi, Jo A. (2006) Studying Communicative Ecologies: An Ethnographic Approach to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). In 56th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, June 19-23, 2006, Dresden, Germany. (Unpublished)

Abstract

An anthropological and ethnographic approach to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) takes us beyond the immediate contexts of access and use to a consideration of how these technologies and their various contents are embedded in quotidian lives - how users, consumers and/or producers are ‘themselves imbricated in discursive universes, political situations, economic circumstances, national settings, historical moments, and transnational flows, to name only a few relevant contexts’ (Ginsberg et al 2002:2). The notion of communicative ecologies has provided myself and colleagues with a conceptual framework for a comparative ethnographic study of the relationship between ICTs and poverty among low income groups in India, South Africa, Jamaica and Ghana. Communicative ecologies focuses our attention on the communication-related aspects of the contexts in which the people we are studying operate, which nevertheless are in turn imbricated in other structural, social, economic and cultural contexts. One of the main themes that arose early in fieldwork in India was that of ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’. Certain structural factors, including gender, land ownership, employment and caste, significantly affect experiences and levels of inclusion and exclusion, and along with this access to information, services and media and communication technologies. A focus on communicative ecologies led to an appreciation of how low income groups lived and negotiated livelihoods, and of the necessity to explore issues of social and communicative inclusion and exclusion as complex, shifting and negotiated. Rethinking the notion of communicative ecologies and applying it to earlier work on the domestic consumption of radio sound in the UK, in this paper I interrogate the ways in which a focus on media and media technologies can help us to develop broader understandings of contemporary everyday life in two very different contexts.

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ID Code: 4400
Item Type: Conference Paper
Additional URLs:
Keywords: media anthropology, information and communication technologies, ethnography, ethnographic action research, communicative ecology
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication and Media Studies not elsewhere classified (200199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > ANTHROPOLOGY (160100) > Social and Cultural Anthropology (160104)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > COGNITIVE SCIENCE (170200) > Cognitive Science not elsewhere classified (170299)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 12 Jul 2006
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:32

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