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Ethnography of BBC World Service soap opera for Afghanistan (Skuse 1999)

April 9, 2010

Skuse, A. 1999.  Negotiated Outcomes: an Ethnography of the Production and Consumption of a BBC World Service Soap Opera for Afghanistan. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London.

2 Sees listening as a key ‘social practice’, looking at the ‘disjuncture and convergence in male and female listening’.

3 In early 70s, radio seen as one of the few unifying factors in a very diverse country. No longer the case after Soviet invasion: audiences have lost trust in radio. 5…radio soon became ‘an overtly ideological and propagandistic tool’.

6 [Logic of media effects taken to extreme when] women’s voices banned from radio cause ‘thought to lead one to carnal desires such as adultery or criminal activity’. Also music seen as ‘a distraction from the remembrance and worship of God’.

7 So radio is the dominant medium, despite restrictions.

8 With no female voices, realistic drama can’t be done.

13 War is news, it creates human interest and anxiety (Briggs 1970; Pegg 1983).

15 Complete trust in the BBC. An elder questions news that Kabul was being surrounded by rebel forces: saying that it was “not true, otherwise the BBC would have mentioned it”. BBC has become a manner of national broadcaster, ‘providing much of the semantic capital currently circulating’.

15 Listening happens within ‘communal family rooms’. Also public places like male guest house (hujra), meeting place, mosque, local shop. In urban areas also teahouse.

17 Radio listening in the hujra is ‘undertaken as a very serious, almost studious, activity’ esp the BBC World Service news. In shops, where women should not be seen, previous evening radio discussed, and radio also listened to.

20 Idea of a permanent soundscape not applicable: here what matters to listeners is ‘trust, truth, accuracy and quality’. Tacchi’s idea of UK radio listening in domestic settings as a ‘soundscape’ or link between radio and loneliness don’t work here, as radio is a group activity

20 Buying a radio is onerous, but ‘we have to listen to radio to find out about our country’. 21 Radio listening is rationed: choices have to be made about stations and times to conserve the life of batteries. Unlike in West, if radio on, it’s being listened to.

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