If you haven’t already, read my previous blog posts to catch up on my ethnographic study: ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.1, ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.2, ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.3, ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.4, ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.5 and ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’ – P.6′.
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Before conducting my observational research, I had an assumption my family would feel pressured with the idea of being observed – therefore wouldn’t act as natural as they normally would when watching Seinfeld. This assumption proved to be true in conducting my observational research as I noticed they would look over toward me to see if I was observing them throughout the process. In coming across the source, ‘Family Perceptions of Television Viewing Habits’, I found confirmation in my observation in the quotation “observational studies of family groups relative to the television viewing, conducted either in the home or in a laboratory setting have been the least common of all methodological strategies. The confounding effects of the participants’ knowledge of observation creates a major difficulty” (Hopkins & Mullis, 1985).
Another finding that came from my ethnographic study is although my family label ourselves “fans” of Seinfeld, other families may disagree for various reasons when reading this ethnographic study. For each family, fandom can mean different things, both to the individual family members and family as a whole. To determine the different types of family fandoms that exist and determine the varying in ways in which families fan would require a whole separate ethnographic study of its own. For my family, our family fandom involves:
- Our Seinfeld poster, ‘The Kramer’, sitting in our living room
- Seinfeld being played on TV practically every night of the week after dinner (whether or not we are active audiences every night isn’t a determining factor)
- Each of us quoting the show almost daily or relating daily situations to episodes
- Telling our family and friends about the show and having them sit down and watch it with us if they haven’t watched it
- Buying Seinfeld related clothing/ merch
A final finding stems from the points I made in my observational research with each family member. Although each of them were sitting in a space near the television, it didn’t mean they had their undivided attention on the show – as each of them was usually on some form of device or chatting to one another throughout each episode. Through research I learned “global estimates of television viewing time tended to be higher than actual viewing time for all ages, partially because people were frequently out of the room when the set was on” (Hopkins & Mullis, 1985). My family are a prime example of this quotation – what they consider their “viewing time” would be is often a lot higher than their actual viewing time as they are often multi-tasking or getting carried away with other tasks.
I believe my ethnographic study achieved my goals and would have a positive effect on the stakeholders I addressed in ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles P.1’ – being academic scholars, TV networks and fandoms. My study has addressed a specific area of family fandom from a personal perspective that I am yet to have found any useful previous research on. This has made my study even more beneficial to my stakeholders as I am providing them with relevant information on a topic they might take interest in.
If I were to continue this ethnographic study I would love to take my study outside of my own immediate family, upscaling my project and collecting data from other families within a set area.
Hopkins, N. & Mullis, A., 1985, ‘Family Perceptions of Television Viewing Habits’, Family Relations, UOW Library, date accessed 4/11/19, https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/stable/583889?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents