Books

Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies by Máire Messenger Davies and Nick Mo

I majored in history, but failed math: strongly agree, strongly disagree, or I don't remember. If you chose the first option, continue reading.


Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies

Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Subtitle: Making People Count
Author: Nick Mosdell
Price: $22.95
Display Artist: Máire Messenger Davies and Nick Mosdell
Length: 208
Formats: Paperback
ISBN: 082032924X
US publication date: 2007-03
Amazon
I am happy to teach them about research with people and audiences, but I can't do numbers.

-- Anonymous professor, p.4

With the above quote being the first words written, Máire Messenger Davies and Nick Mosdell make their premise clear from the outset of the utilitarian textbook Practical Research Methods for Media and Cultural Studies: Making People Count. Davies, a Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster at Coleraine, and Mosdell, a lecturer at Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, are academics trained in using both quantitative and qualitative analysis to analyze society. Yet, they follow the popular line about the perceived divide between humanities and science. In response, they attempt to map for humanities students an accessible and practicable path to quantitative analysis.

Having taught both undergraduate and graduate students, Davies and Mosdell tailor Practical Research Methods to the "average" student's needs. Understanding that research makes up the bread and butter of each humanities student's work, they approach the subject with the argument that the organization of knowledge is quantifiable. They differentiate objective from subjective treatments of data, and argue that the research that follows should be "rigorous, systematic, replicable, valid, derived from clear research questions and properly operationalised". Though such functional and numeric language sounds counterintuitive towards turning a humanities student's beat around, Davies and Mosdell emphasize these qualities to make clear "the usefulness of science ... is its method".

As a beginner's text, Practical Research Methods focuses its attention on that basic staple of quantifiable research: the questionnaire. From selecting an appropriate research question (with special attention given to a student's limited resources), to designing, testing, administering and evaluating the research, the book outlines the entire procedure. Though Davies and Mosdell emphasize strict execution and adherence to protocol, they do their best to make such a sexy idea accessible and engaging. By reflecting on a healthy dollop of in-class experiences, especially ones that relate to popular culture affairs, the examples (testing for bias against Northern Irish politicians in English newspapers; or children's opinions on whether more children should be present in popular television programs are just a few of the cases used) are often appropriately helpful for comparative use. Yes, even for American students.

While Practical Research Methods is directed primarily at burgeoning researchers, the textbook is also useful for the novice media and cultural analyst (or, simply, any person who reflectively consumes popular culture). Chapter two, which deals with research question formulation and subsequently stresses the basic tenets of quantitative research, provides a lucid guide to what-makes-a-good-survey. Given the likelihood of exposure to this oft-used research tool, a literate person's understanding of sound research practice could be useful. Especially as the presence of media has grown, and opportunities for consumer-business interaction have increased through online, retail, and telephone surveys, even a basic knowledge of how such research is structured can empower a consumer.

While Davies and Mosdell prove relatively successful in outlining a dry idea with spirit and wit, they fail to make a convincing argument for the utility of quantitative research. Pointing out its inability to be used in a conclusive manner -- at most, as evidence of correlations or relationships -- even the simplest survey becomes an immense amount of work with relatively little product. Which is unfortunate because, as they do argue in the beginning of the text, the methodology behind this research informs generally sound thinking by making one aware of consistency and clarity. It can be seen as the direct application of reason to the subjective arena of qualitative research -- a useful tool especially when forming a convincing argument. However, Davies and Mosdell spend only a handful of paragraphs discussing the practical application of quantitative research findings, most of which amounts to a posterboard/PowerPoint presentation to one's peers; practical for obtaining that passing mark, yes, but little else. Practical Research Methods succeeds in cracking the window ajar to an unspectacular practice, but falls shy of blowing the whole thing open.

7
Music
Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists

If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by the quality readership of PopMatters.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Books
Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Film
Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Recent
Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Music

Lilly Hiatt - "Some Kind of Drug" (Singles Going Steady)

Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.

Music

There's Never Enough Time for Folk Music's James Elkington

The sometimes Wilco and Richard Thompson sideman, in-demand producer, and songwriter, James Elkington, muses on why it's taking longer than he expects to achieve more in a week than most of us get done in a lifetime.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.