Living in Mediatized Worlds. Media Rituals and Audience Cultures in the Everyday Life

Balazs Boross obtained his master degrees at the Eötvös Loránd University of Science in Budapest (Hungarian Language and Literature, Cultural Anthropology) and at the University of Amsterdam (Sociology and Social Anthropology, with a specialization in ‘Gender, Sexuality and Society’). Besides a general interest in ritual theory, identity formation, social cohesion and the epistemology of ethnographic research, Balazs is currently focusing more on questions around mediatization, popular culture, globalization and everyday life, turning his attention more towards interdisciplinary approaches and experimental, comparative research methods.

These topics and perspectives will be integrated during his dissertation research. This project, funded by the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) and carried out at the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, focuses on media rituals, instances when ‘ordinary people’ come into contact literally and figuratively with the ‘media world’. These can involve a series of events ranging from situations when ‘ordinary’ people become accidentally or deliberately part of media productions to organized meet-and-greets, official fan days, or tours around film studios and neighbourhoods where celebrities live.

The current scholarly literature presumes that such events are growing in popularity and as a consequence offer an important insight into the role that media culture plays in everyday life. Empirical research into this, however, is scarce. While the relevance of the concept of media ritual for media research has been widely acknowledged, the existing, sporadic Anglo-Saxon examples have mainly served as illustrations of the concept itself. Furthermore, previous research has mainly focused either on the questions of media power, or on large-scale media events with dispersed audiences, and thereby generally overlooked audience agency and the cultural contexts in which such events become ritually meaningful.

This five year PhD research is the first to present wide-ranging, ethnographic research into the functions and mechanisms of media rituals ‘in action’, by analysing how audiences with different cultural backgrounds and identities actually become involved in media-related practices to create a sense of order and meaning in their everyday life. In doing so, the research not only aims to highlight the diversity of ritual practices emerging around such engagements, but also to contribute to our understanding of how unmediated and physical encounters affect the cultural experience of living in increasingly mediatized societies. Moreover, given the contemporary scale of opportunities for ‘ordinary’ people to access, use and interact through various media platforms, the project addresses how the symbolic authority of media institutions are becoming (de)constructed and/or appropriated through grassroots ritual practices under the current era of participatory media culture, where the traditional boundaries between media consumption and production, between what is ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the media seem to become increasingly blurred.

Contents tourism

At Hokkaido University in Japan, a research group led by Professor Philip Seaton explores the phenomenon of ‘contents tourism’.

‘Contents tourism’ is travel behavior motivated fully or partially by narratives, characters, locations and other creative elements of popular culture forms, including film, television dramas, manga, anime, novels and computer games. The concept originated in Japan and is closely related to what is known as film-induced tourism or media-induced tourism in English.
Edited by Dr. Seaton and his team, The International Journal of Contents Tourism (http://www.cats.hokudai.ac.jp/ijct/) is an open-access scholarly journal exploring contents tourism. IJCT publishes articles of various lengths, from original research papers through to short blog entries. It is based at Hokkaido University and the editors-in-chief are Professor Philip Seaton (International Student Center) and Professor Takayoshi Yamamura (Center for Advanced Tourism Studies).

IJCT has three main aims:

1. To publish scholarly research into the theory and practice of contents tourism from an international perspective.
2. To provide a bilingual forum in which researchers, tourism- or media-industry practitioners and fans can all contribute writings on contents tourism.
3. To integrate an analytical concept that emerged in Japan into global discourses on the linkages between popular culture and tourism.