The second day of the ICSSR Research Methodology workshop on Communication Studies and Social Sciences was ushered in with the same enthusiasm as the cold morning of Delhi breezed in energy and freshness.
Prof. Ravindran Gopalan
Communication Research Methods
Prof. Gopalan explained the historical contexts behind the emergence of the discipline ‘Communication research’, He stressed that communication was present from time immemorial but the discipline has its roots outside India and was brought in through western concepts. Highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of communication studies, he encouraged the participants to go beyond the linear understanding of communication research. He explained the politics involved in the emergence and those which shaped the discipline, i.e. the studies undertaken in the field, the methods used and why few scholars were celebrated while others were not. He lamented for the lack of an indigenous way of understanding of the discipline which would factor in the socio-cultural factors as the borrowed western concepts don’t fit well in understanding the Indian social reality. Prof. Gopalan cited scholars who challenged the linear understanding of communication research and urged the scholars to think in an innovative manner to understand the social reality of Indian life.
After a short tea-break, Prof. Gopalan continued the second session on ‘Anthropology and Communication Research’, He lucidly explained how and why it is relevant to have an anthropological bend in understanding the everyday life and how communication researchers can pursue their studies in anthropological manner. He explained his anthropological study ‘Understanding digital cultures in India/ Tamilnadu’, where he focused on the arrangement of digital space in a house and what it communicates. He pushed the idea of everyday life as a multi method and multi-disciplinarian study and urged researchers to engage in everyday life from various disciplinary lens.
Prof. Rashmi Doraiswamy
Understanding Visual cultures
After the lunch break, Prof. Rashmi Doraiswamy introduced the various concepts in understanding the visual cultures, the cultural turn in the disciplines and rise of interest in cultures and visuals. In modern day countries fight each other to exert power over each other through their cultures- this is termed as soft power. This creative economy has a huge and the growing contribution to the economy of the country. India is rich in visuals, which communicate its cultures and the social reality which has been made more phenomenal through the advent of technology and its interactions with technology have resulted in a new domain of study. The rich presentation introduced many concepts in understanding the visual cultures, otherwise neglected by the discipline.
Prof. Biswajit Das
Designing a Questionnaire for Facebook study
In the final session of the day, Prof. Das elaborated on the disciplinary concerns of communication studies. He explained how the uni-linear-mass-mediated logic of understanding communication and the lack of grounding of concepts in a larger theoretical framework has shrunk the communication discipline in India. The session continued with the formation of six groups which were then assigned a sub theme to prepare questions. These will be later included in the questionnaire to a conduct a study on Facebook. The groups were asked to formulate questions and later the questions of each group were discussed and asked to make some changes. The participants dispersed late evening after the heated discussions on the themes assigned.