Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Everyday Media Culture in Africa

Audiences and Users, 1st Edition

Edited by Wendy Willems, Winston Mano


260 pages

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pub: 2016-12-08
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African audiences and users are rapidly gaining in importance and increasingly targeted by global media companies, social media platforms and mobile phone operators. This is the first edited volume that addresses the everyday lived experiences of Africans in their interaction with different kinds of media: old and new, state and private, elite and popular, global and national, material and virtual. So far, the bulk of academic research on media and communication in Africa has studied media through the lens of media-state relations, thereby adopting liberal democracy as the normative ideal and examining the potential contribution of African media to development and democratization. Focusing instead on everyday media culture in a range of African countries, this volume contributes to the broader project of provincializing and decolonizing audience and internet studies.


"In Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users, we finally have a gem of an exploration into African media functioning as an integral part of Africans’ lived realities – whether it is the legacy media of newspapers, radio and television or the newer forms of social communication powered by the Internet and the rapid increase in the uptake of mobile telephony across the continent. The overall result – and perhaps one of the most important lessons pulsating throughout this work – is that the very notion of ‘Africa’ becomes a prism for analysing the social, political, economic and technological complexities that underpin media production and consumption in today’s Africa. The analytical potency in each of the chapters lies in how the authors succeed in dispelling the often ‘Orientalized’ myths about the continent, thereby drawing on the African media repertoire not only for self-analysis but also for linking the continent to the global project of truly internationalizing media studies." - Fackson Banda, UNESCO Programme Specialist, Media and Civic Participation Section

"How does one study an African audience nimble-footed in diversity and exposure to a myriad of media fodder in an increasingly sophisticated media landscape? Audiences and Users addresses this question by taking a closer look at everyday media cultures in Africa in an age of proliferation of dazzling media options for Africans to push the boundaries of creative agency and innovation. By taking seriously the socio-cultural context in which Africans embrace the new communicative technologies at their disposal, and by recognising the hierarchies that inform human relations, this book reiterates the centrality of ethnography and kindred observational research techniques for understanding the dynamics of persuasive communication and how audiences of different social backgrounds and positions relate to the media that target them and how they in turn target others with their very own media content. Using Africa as an entry point, Audiences and Users discusses how the quality of audience research in any context requires paying closer attention to the lived realities of media audiences and users. The book’s message is refreshingly simple and urgent: As communication scholars we need to continually listen to, draw on, interact with and edify the importance of media audiences and users in their local contexts, and involve beyond rhetoric and tokenism those researched in the production of knowledge about their realities and predicaments. Normative and prescriptive media theories may have their value, but that should not entail a stubborn insensitivity to context and social change. Asking the right questions and building science entails carefully and critically situating the object of study within existing knowledge by drawing on and feeding back into it in terms of theory, methodology, issues and debates." - Francis B. Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town

Table of Contents


Paddy Scannell

1. Decolonizing and provincializing audience and internet studies: contextual approaches from African vantage points

Wendy Willems and Winston Mano

2. Media culture in Africa? A practice-ethnographic approach

Jo Helle Valle

3. ‘The African listener‘: state-controlled radio, subjectivity, and agency in colonial and post-colonial Zambia

Robert Heinze

4. Popular engagement with tabloid TV: a Zambian case study

Herman Wasserman and Loisa Mbatha

5. ‘Our own WikiLeaks’: popularity, moral panic and tabloid journalism in Zimbabwe

Admire Mare

6. Audience perceptions of radio stations and journalists in the Great Lakes region

Marie-Soleil Frère

7. Audience participation and BBC’s digital quest in Nigeria

Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar

8. ‘Radio locked on @Citi973’: Twitter use by FM radio listeners in Ghana

Seyram Avle

9. Mixing with MXit when you're ‘mix’: mobile phones and identity in a small South African town

Alette Schoon and Larry Strelitz

10. Brokers of belonging: elders and intermediaries in Kinshasa’s mobile phone culture

Katrien Pype

11. Agency behind the veil: gender, digital media and being ‘ninja’ in Zanzibar

Thembi Mutch

About the Editors

Wendy Willems is Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK and Associate and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is co-editor of Civic Agency in Africa: Arts of Resistance in the 21st Century.

Winston Mano is Director of the Africa Media Centre and Reader in Media and Communication Studies at the University of Westminster in London, UK and Editor of the Journal of African Media Studies. He is also a Senior Research Associate in the School of Communication at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Internationalizing Media Studies

Through publishing comparative and region-specific studies, this series aims to bring Asian, Latin American, African, and Middle Eastern media and cultural studies scholarship to the English speaking world and--in addition-- to promote cutting edge research on the globalization of media, culture, and communication.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies