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EUROPEAN-SOCIOLOGIST  April 2000

EUROPEAN-SOCIOLOGIST April 2000

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Subject:

apologies for Xposting - please circulate

From:

"Urry, John" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Urry, John

Date:

Mon, 3 Apr 2000 09:21:49 +0100

Content-Type:

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> ESRC (CASE) Studentship at Lancaster University beginning October 2000
> 
> INTERACTIVE TELEVISION, LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND ELECTRONIC DEMOCRACY
> 
> John URRY, Sociology and Bronislaw SZERSZYNSKI, Centre for the Study of
> Environmental Change, Lancaster University
> 
> (There is a web version of this document at:
> http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/csec/study/itv-lc-ed.html)
> 
> Interactive TV is just appearing within Britain although so far its main
> presence is within sports and home shopping programming. To the extent there
> is debate about the prospects of electronic democracy this has been mostly
> seen in terms of the internet; there are various examples of experiments to
> facilitate e-democracy through the internet (see for example
> http://www.e-democracy/do/). 
> 
> What however has been much less considered is that TV may be the appropriate
> platform for enhanced community and democratic participation. The more
> available, accessible and familiar 'box in the corner' could provide greater
> opportunities for transforming local community and democratic life, a
> possibility that the Cabinet Office is currently considering. As Steve
> Morrison, the Chief Executive of Granada, wrote recently in advocating
> 'Citizen TV': 'we're in danger of being too PC about the PC ... television
> reaches parts of society other technologies don't reach ... As integrated
> digital television sets develop, you'll be able to access the internet ...
> Television is easy and unintimidating...' (The Guardian, Nov 27th 1999). He
> specifically argues that digital TV may enable a new stage of citizenship to
> develop, 'closing the gap between the information-rich and the
> information-poor and to create a genuinely inclusive society of Digital
> Citizens'. This research studentship is specifically designed to research
> such a TV-based attempt to generate an inclusive society of 'digital
> citizens' in NE Lincolnshire.
> 
> Research Questions
> In an increasingly 'mediatised' world, forms of participation in local
> communities will be strongly influenced by the changing nature of the mass
> media. In this research the student will consider whether local interactive
> TV, involving the use of qwerty-handsets within people's living rooms, has
> the potential to connect electronically the 'public' with important 'public
> institutions' in ways that are faster, less mediated by other agencies and
> authorities and much less regulated than is customary. This technology will
> enable people to vote on almost everything on their TV and will with
> computer-like keyboards, enable e-discussions to occur on almost any topic.
> As people become routinely able to 'vote' and 'speak' on almost all issues
> via the extended TV handset in their living room this interactivity could
> enable people to create local sites of 'deliberative democracy', to generate
> 'town meetings of the air'. In particular, the student will research:
> * who has access to interactive TV including who controls the handset within
> the home
> * whether interactive TV will enable the otherwise 'socially excluded'
> (especially the young and older citizens who are more familiar with TV) to
> participate much more fully in community life
> * around what kinds of issues will people vote or speak interactively
> * the different modes of involvement that this may produce -  being better
> informed, being consulted, being able to participate, being more likely to
> form an association and so on
> * whether participation through the TV increases or lowers rates of public
> participation in formal organisations and local government 
> * whether this experiment in local interactive TV constitutes a model of
> local participation and democracy that can be cloned elsewhere
> 
> The Site for the CASE Studentship
> In the last three years Immage 2000 has established a set of intersecting
> multi-media initiatives located in a state-of-the-art multi-media studio in
> Immingham, NE Lincs. Connected with this studio (part lottery-funded and
> opened by David Puttnam) is the cable broadcaster NTL, a major electronics
> manufacturer, the local press, an Education Action Zone, the Open School
> Network (htttp://www.osn.co.uk/), many 'community' organisations, various
> educational partners including Grimsby College and its media studies
> programme, and the unitary local authority.
> For this research the key aspect is the provision by NTL of an experiment in
> interactive TV, not for sports or shopping, but for local organisations and
> the public to participate in 'their' community. The R-and-D for this will be
> made possible by a grant through ERDF Objective 2 SRB4 funding for ?404k to
> run 2000-1. Broadcasting begins in 2000 and so the CASE student will be
> present at the beginning of what will be the first experiment in Britain to
> provide interactive, local, public service TV, based upon professional level
> broadcasting and using high quality ISDN cabling. The research student will
> research alongside Immage 2000 (where the student will for periods be based),
> and NTL (which already has 50 % of the area as subscribers and is developing
> the new remote control qwerty-keyboards which enable both TV and the web to
> be accessed through the TV). The research student will conduct an ethnography
> of 'electronic democracy' in the making.
> 
> Research Methods
> * Desk research on e-democracy experiments world-wide
> * Quantitative research on the degree to which the new technology is
> available and used by different social groups 
> * Qualitative research to ascertain the effects of interactive TV on the
> civic life of the local community. Interviews will be conducted with key
> informants in the area, and focus groups will be undertaken especially with
> various social groups otherwise deemed 'information-poor'.
> 
> Timetable
> Months 1-9: research student training programme at Lancaster, literature
> review, desk research on new media, and preliminary observation of the new TV
> programming and up-take
> Months 10-27: field research in NE Lincolnshire
> Months 28-36: data analysis and writing up in Lancaster
> 
> Immage 2000 will provide the following facilities for the researcher: 
> * enhancement in money/kind of the standard ESRC grant 
> * access to company records from Immage 2000's beginning (apart from limited
> commercially confidential information); 
> * direct access to all individuals, organisations, networks and partnerships
> associated with the project
> * the facilitation of connections with Grimsby College and especially their
> media studies students in GCTV who may be involved in part of the large-scale
> data collection;
> * access to the NVQ4 broadcasting journalism students who are trained in part
> at Immage 2000 studios;
> * access, where appropriate, to the many high-level visitors to the studios
> especially from national government and from Europe who are taking a very
> keen interest in TV-based forms of local democracy (Downing St sees this as a
> national case-study)
> * office space, telephone, fax, video-conferencing, computer etc for the
> period that the CASE student will spend on site
> 
> Applications should be made on a Lancaster University Graduate Application
> Form by May 1st  2000 (http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/gradschool/fundfr.htm)
> 
> Candidates should have a background in social science and/or cultural/media
> studies. They should have some familiarity with recent media developments, be
> able to work on their own and to collaborate with other organisations and be
> able to handle confidential material. 
> 
> _______________________________________________
> 
> Bronislaw Szerszynski
> Lecturer in Environment and Culture
> Centre for the Study of Environmental Change
> Bowland Tower East
> Lancaster University
> Lancaster LA1 4YT
> United Kingdom
> 
> Tel: +44 (0)1524 592659
> Fax: +44 (0)1524 846339
> E-mail:  [log in to unmask]
> Web: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/users/csec
> 
John URRY
Prof of Sociology
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YL, UK
TEL 01524 594179
FAX 01524 594256
EMAIL [log in to unmask]
http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/jurry.html







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