LASICS .::. Open Conference Systems, IAMCR 2010: Communication and Citizenship

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Appropriating Television in a Digital Era - Results from a Portuguese Qualitative study

Vera Araújo, Tiago Lima, Gustavo Cardoso

Last modified: 2010-07-14


During the last decade, we have witnessed a vast change in the media landscape. A change, not only due to technological innovation in mediation devices themselves, but also in the ways users have chosen to socially domesticate them (Cardoso, 2008). In this ambit, the process of television digitalization must be addressed with a special attention, as it is the medium with the widest implementation in households and as it is also a medium that is fully domesticated, meaning that it is completely integrated in our daily lives and habits and forms an important part of it (Silverstone, 1996). Having the Portuguese context in mind, this paper tries to evaluate how existing viewing practices will interact with the process of television digitalization. For that, and based on social constructivist user approaches namely the domestication theory (Berker, Hartmann, Punie, & Ward, 2005; Silverstone & Haddon, 1996), we will first try to frame existing viewing practices, assess how different groups are dealing with the migration process to DTV, and evaluate how viewing practices can be or are being reshaped by digitalization and the growing networking of media devices. On the empirical level, we will base our research on the results of three focus group interviews. The groups were constructed on the basis of a previous research developed by the Portuguese Media Observatory, which consisted of an extensive survey designed to trace existing current television viewing practices in Portugal. Three profiles of viewers were highlighted in the ambit of this survey: the Avant-Garde, the Digital Resistant and the Indifferent. The focus groups were then developed having in mind these profiles, in order to deepen the current television practices, discourses and representations, in the era of digitalization. Based on our previous research and literature review, we are departing from the hypothesis that television viewing habits and representations in Portugal are still linked to traditional television practices, namely in the case of the Digital Resistant and the Indifferent. Also, the degree of users’ literacy regarding digital television services and opportunities is still expected to be very low, even for the Digital Avant-Garde.

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