Culture and lifestyles

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Culture and lifestyles

The media convey culture and lifestyles more than one would be prone to think. They contribute to attaching a socially shared significance to the set of symbols and signs that shape a country’s cultural system through radio, tv, press or internet, with blogs and social networks, or audio-visual fiction and entertainment programmes that are watched on the tv screen in one’s living room or more frequently on tablets and smartphones.
The Osservatorio di Pavia has used several analysis techniques to detect lifestyles and cultural phenomena conveyed by the media.

The projects

Donation observatory

The Osservatorio di Pavia conducts a continuous study on how volunteering and gift-giving are portrayed in the media in collaboration with the Italian Institute of Donation to provide an overview of the state of the Italian non-profit sector. The project’s primary goal is to examine how the amount of time spent discussing donations changes over time, as well as how it is represented in the media, since this contributes to redefining and changing the social notion of gift.

An investigation into the types of arguments conveyed by the media

The media have always conveyed arguments of all kinds. Examples of fallacies and questionable arguments that are studied in logic textbooks often present pieces of advertising and political arguments (statements made in election campaigns or statements in favour of specific public policies).

These instances frequently involve media subjects like political discourse, commercial advertising, or blog content on the Internet. These types of topics are particularly interesting when it becomes clear that they have been employed, for example, in advertising, as rhetorically effective techniques to persuade a mass audience. Previously (and often even today), they were classified as logically fallacious.

But today, increasingly often, they are instead considered fallible (slippery) features, useful to reach a provisional conclusion in a condition of epistemic uncertainty but subject to critical questioning. The theory that we intend to expound through a series of articles and contributions seeks to present a balanced judgement between analysing these arguments as fallible but substantially reasonable in some cases, and criticising them as fallacious arguments employed as tactics to win over an opponent in an unfair way or deceive a mass audience.

Pain Television: an investigation into television "bad practices"

In recent years, it has become increasingly common to encounter stories of black or judicial history or events centred on instances of personal or social suffering when watching television programmes. Stories of murders; of violence and abuse; of assaults and acts of bullying; of serious and disabling diseases; of road accidents and natural disasters with tragic results; all these are united by the sense of suffering experienced by individuals, in families or larger communities.

With a very concise but effective expression, when television programmes deal with these topics, declining them in a sense that very much grants to the show of the personal or collective drama, we speak of “Pain television”. The purpose of this study is to understand and analyse the various ways that pain is shown or described on television. Determine how much of the daily schedule is dedicated to these subjects; which programmes are most dedicated to drawing viewers’ attention to these more or less dramatic and dramatised stories; which modalities, narrative techniques, and rhetorical devices better represent the story; and whether there are any “bad practises” in their reconstruction.