Discussion: Grounded Theory and Participatory Media

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Q. Grounded Theory is a vibrant approach for assessing audience reactions to events through social and participatory media. As Charmaz points out, these extant texts must be studied in the context of both the medium and the community in which they are presented. Based in your reading of Charmaz (and Gibbs, and Hamelink), what factors would you consider most important when studying a local, regional, or global community’s responses on participatory media? Feel free to frame your answers in terms of a scenario you have encountered in your work or in popular culture.


Participatory media us such a rich, unique and telling way to gain access to peoples communication styles, interpretation and feelings. You can learn so much about dynamics, cultures and sub currents by allowing people to participate in the very media which they are also using as their means of local and global communication. It’s really interesting, because it’s almost like a catch 22. With that said, when studying these kinds of situations to use extant texts in a way that’s appropriate and leads us to the right, data driven conclusions, Charmaz points out that context is vitally important.

Of the four factors that Charmaz points out are crucial to consider when studying interactions (called dimensions), I would argue that cultural dimension is the most important. Culture permeates our lives, conversations, language, and norms, and it vastly shapes the way that we interpret situations and communications. In addition to being so vital, it’s also so different from place to place. So many pieces of direct communication are “lost in translation” every day due to not only idiomatic barriers, but simply cultural differences in the way messages are to be sent, codified and understood. I work with China every day, and I have to be very careful how I communicate to my counterparts there. No sarcasm though emails, no jokes, no idioms. Keep things as short and direct as possible. If I were to send emails of that nature to colleagues here in the states, they would feel as if I was being rude, and to some extent I am. But in my experience working with teams in China, that is how communication is best received and acted upon.

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