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Ethnic minority radio: interactions and identity

Shember-Critchley, Eleanor (2012) Ethnic minority radio: interactions and identity. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The past thirty years has seen a growth of ethnic minority radio stations. They occupy spaces in the public, commercial, community and pirate broadcasting sectors and are seen to provide valuable services for marginalised listeners. Yet, little is known about the practices of broadcasting within these stations and the role staff and their programmes play within their communities. This doctoral thesis is the first analysis of the development and continuing existence of a set of case study ethnic minority radio stations and how they employ the concepts of ethnicity and identity. To achieve this, it puts the daily interactions and practices that go on within the radio stations at the heart of the analysis. The paucity of research in this area demanded the synthesis of different theoretical ideas to fully explore the meaning of these interactions. The study utilises a modified structuration theory (Giddens, 1984; Stones, 2005) to blend the separate areas of ethnicity, identity (Karner, 2007) and radio in everyday life (Scannell, 1996). Structuration theory comes with few instructions for use. A major contribution to theoretical knowledge is the presentation of a theoretical, methodological and coding framework. The qualitative, case study approach and a blended strategy enable the valuable use of structuration theory for studies of the media and everyday life. This thesis argues that the structures of ethnicity, identity, and the station are the medium and outcome of agent action and that agent action is orientated by the structures of the station, broadcasting, ethnicity and identity. Contingent to this analysis are the life narratives of the staff and the ‘cultural competences’ they bring to the stations. The theoretical framework illuminates the processes of ethnicity, highlighting the importance of both a reified and a fluid identity, broadcast as part of the programmes, to understand how these stations and their communities are so tightly bound.

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