Qualitative Research in Media Studies


Qualitative research in media studies connects case studies—particular kinds of content, industries and audiences—with globally and historically significant trends in the development of media power. Since the second decade of the 20th century, studies of gender and the media have led the way in showing how this can be done. Rosalind Gill’s concept of “intersectionality,” for example, stands as an elegant expression of qualitative aspirations. Since the digital turn, research on gender and pornographic industries, texts, and audiences has proved to be remarkably creative in using qualitative methods to make generalisable claims from small-scale case studies. In doing so, this work has demonstrated the essential qualitative “trick”; taking a topic which may be of no obvious interest to the reader, then connecting that topic to ideas about media influence that matter to everyone.

This entry addresses the goals and methods of qualitative media research using recent empirical case studies on pornography which draw on a rich history of research and theorising to show how media make reality. The entry also focuses on gender, because since the 1920s, scholars have noted that media are powerful sources for ideas about gender, that girls in particular put in to practice. Pornography studies are important for all media scholars because they are sites where the social production of gender as the outcome of changing technological, economic, and cultural conditions is clearly visible. The methods that porn scholars have used to chart these connections can be usefully applied to many other subjects.

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles