Taking the Member's Perspective Essay

Submitted By drcoplin
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Pages: 14

Adding the Members' Perspective to Mass Media Research ABSTRACT Content analysis is expanded through adoption of qualitative adaptation that is sensitive to the perspective of members of groups known to be subject of news stories. Content analysis yielded both quantitative and qualitative data on the mass media treatment of the movement. All articles located through index consultation were included in the systematic sample of print articles from 1966 (first index entry) to the present This number was compared to recruitment statistics provided by the movement for the period 1967-1977. Instead of manifest content analysis using standard indexing sources, a more innovative procedure was adopted to locate latent content and strengthen validity. Based on members' categorization criteria, drawn from movement goals and logic of instruction, each sentence, phrase, key word, headline, and photograph was scored positive (+) or negative (-), and an article score, or valence, was compiled. Each article was thus typified from the standpoint of the movement's ideology, strategy, and goals with reference to the incorrigible principles of the movement enunciated throughout its programs. This methodological innovation made explicit an analytical point of view in contrast to most content analysis that fallaciously assumes a neutral observer. Furthermore, this analysis located the movement message as the focus of observation and made its mediation (or distortion) readily recognizable. This permitted analysis of consistent bias and resonant imagery and based historical variations on differences in interpretation between the movement's text and the journalist's text. Compilation of valential scoring provided an annual statistic that could be compared with other data by year. Finally this coding base could also be applied to categorization by periodical and periodical type (national newsmagazine, women's, religious, scientific, etc.). This paper locates the Transcendental Meditation movement's key historical phases as ideological transitions in which the movement finds itself recontextualized by social agencies exterior and even antagonistic to its program, with the movement itself redefined as a "message". The movement initiates communication by posing its self-image, but the reception is mediated (strongly for the non-members and to a much lesser degree for the members) by other institutions (religious, scientific, familial, governmental) through the structuring of symbolic relevances. Taking the Members' Perspective in Mass Media Research: The Ideological Implications of TM Mass communications research has utilized content analysis as a means of quantifying sender and receiver, message content and intent, and effect. The central question in this paper is mediation of the message represented by Transcendental Meditation, a form of popular culture, by news agencies and popular periodicals. Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is a mental technique which has been adapted from Indian yogic practices and popularized in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The movement now claims over one million meditators in the United States. While TM introductory lectures emphasize inidividual benefits for mind and body through a twice daily meditative program, its widespread popularity and claims to affect social change and the quality of life have given the movement ideological implications. As an alternative to existing institutions, such as educational, religious, and medical organizations, the movement has encountered opposition directly, in the form of legal challenges, and indirectly, through its representation in the press. The societal change that has made this important is the historical emergence of the public. In his paper, "The Modernity of Social Movements: Public Roles and Private Parts," Gusfield notes the "immense widening of a sphere of attention that distinguishes

between what is public and what is private".1 Collective values and societal…