My Digital Research Profile started with my first draft for the I Researcher. The topic I had chosen at the time was about Twitter and its fandom. But as I read more I realised my passion lied elsewhere. That’s when I found a topic that truly stirred something in me. That is the sexualisation of product and people in fast food advertisements. And so my journey began.
To say that advertisements occupy a large part of our daily lives would be an understatement. They no longer focus on just selling products; rather what they sell are lifestyles – a hedonism version of yourself. They tell us who we are and what our ideal self should be. And that’s where my research comes in. The primary aim of my dissertation would be to analyse how fast food advertisements use sex appeal to target their audience. The first segment of my Media Research was Sketching the Field. It allowed me to look at my topic through a wider lens which inevitably added to my own perspective regarding my dissertation. Of course I did gain more in theory, but I also realised how strictly I did not want to follow certain research methods that I had read through at the time like quantitative research for example. Through my dissertation I don’t intend to search for a number rather what I search for is meaning. And so I decided to use a qualitative method of analysis for my research.
In Beyond Face Value, which was the second segment of my Media Research I continued to lay my focus on qualitative methods of analysis. At about the same time I had started a new module called Advertising where I was to create an advertising campaign of my own. As interesting it was – it brought me to a crossroad. On the one hand I was looking at the advertisement industry as an audience for my media research; and on the other hand I had to become a part of the very same industry and create an advertisement.
I was baffled for a while before it hit me – I was looking at it all wrong. As an academic I had to stand in the centre. A good research is one which can be seen at a mechanical level and in order to do that I had to act as a constant rather than disconnecting myself from the social world that I intended to study.
I saw myself becoming more reflexive from the articles I read to the blogs I wrote – which was also a crucial requirement of my third bit of Media Research i.e. Methodology, Ontology, Epistemology. But before I began I asked myself one question – Who am I? As an individual I’m aware that my identity forms my opinions. My education, ethnicity and upbringing play a huge part in my research. This section of the media research allowed me to play around with different approaches and methodological perspectives. I conveniently took a step back from my research topic and started looking at different methods instead. I dedicated myself to understanding the theoretical concerns of reflexivity and subjectivity in qualitative research from a postmodernist approach. I realised that there are many different approaches one could have towards qualitative research; and that all these approaches are characterised by their research for meaning and understanding.
The one aspect of my research that I have been consistent with and ensure to continue during my dissertation is ethical research. Since I plan to use a qualitative method of analysis there may be a close bond shared by my participants and myself. By self consciously and reflexively accounting for the intimate link between my participants and myself I intend to communicate my understanding of the social world of advertisement viewers and illustrate the means through which I understood the same. I truly believe that ethics should not be limited to the mere process since it is also extensively related to a researchers personal leanings.
Through this digital research diary I understand that people have the opportunity to see how I have gone on with the process of knowledge construction before and during my research. By engaging in ongoing dialogue I am now able to determine what I know and moreover, how I came to learn it.
I’d like to end here with a quote that I came across by Philip Lopate on personal research. I hope to use this wonderful saying as an advocate for the duration of my research. He says it is “a mode of being. It’s not science, it’s not philosophy. It’s an existential struggle for honesty and expansion in an uncertain world”.