Reality TV and the Growth of Ethnographic/Qualitative Research – Coincidence, or Context?

Insight Reframed as a New Paradigm of Individualism Not Aggregation

Neil McPhee
Nuance Research Ltd., United Kingdom


Speed in the early 1900s was defined by the typical speed of horses and pedestrians, hence the early shock amongst populations at the speeds of trains and automobiles: speed in the New Millennium is defined by such things as the Internet, Concorde, and fast food, etc. Research is no different and advertising, and media in general, along with research, is framed within current cultural contexts. It is thus highly likely that the growth of interest in and awareness and usage of ethnographic or “immersion” techniques is at least in part a reflection of the growth and prevalence of reality TV, and its predecessor the documentary. Many of the changes, in turn, to be identified within this arena are driven by developments in technology, though whether these are themselves driven by, or drive the development of technical advance is beyond the scope of this paper.