Communication And Culture Presentation Coursework

[MUSIC]

Welcome to the Culture and Presentations podcast, I'm your host Dr Rachel Harvey.

An important part of my job at PWC is to help people develop the knowledge and

skills they need to work in our culturally diverse economy.

You just watched a video on how culture can impact your presentation.

In the video, you learned cultural tips to take your presentation from good to great.

In this podcast, you get to see what this looks like in action.

You'll hear about cross cultural presentation experiences and

strategies from three PWC professionals.

Their stories cover a range of situations.

We'll hear about presenting to an audience in a different country, and

how in the same organization you might encounter different cultures.

Finally, you'll hear how these three PWC professionals prepare for

cross cultural presentations.

The other day I spoke with Brian Dogan,

he has 15 years of experience in management consulting.

Though he grew up in the United States, his parents were German immigrants.

He gained further cross cultural experience during the years he spent

working in Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Hong Kong.

He shared a great story with me.

Brian, thank you for joining us.

It would be great if you could share a story with us about how

cultural differences impacted a presentation you gave.

>> Yeah, I'm happy to.

In my career, I've been really fortunate, in that I've had the opportunity to work

across a lot of different cultures, and I've always been fascinated by that.

One story that comes to mind, is that my colleague and

I were asked to teach a week long consulting course in Hong Kong.

And, I was excited by that, because I'd never been to Hong Kong, and

I had a lot of just natural curiosity around the people and the culture, and

what was it like to do business in China, Hong Kong and so on.

So, as good corporate citizens, my colleague and

I actually prepared a really nice week long program to upskill about 20 China,

Hong Kong consultants on a number of different topics.

We eagerly showed up with our curriculum, we had our materials,

we had a great plan, and we were really mindful of the fact that our audience

was majority non-native English speaking.

We were also prepared to try to avoid our Americanisms and

we were preparing ourselves to answer a lot of question, and

to be very clarifying and things like that.

So we felt like we had a pretty good plan in place.

So on Monday, we start, we begin our program and by design,

our course was intended to be really interactive.

So, within the first hours,

we were just amazed and surprised by the lack of participation.

Nobody had questions, nobody showed any signs of engagement, or even interest for

that matter in our view.

And, even when we would ask for probing questions, it was just silence.

We, of course had a brief moment of panic there, we thought are we confusing people?

Are we off the base?

Or, people just not getting at?

So all of these thoughts were going through our heads.

At any rate, as the day progressed and we finally got to the point of a break.

I head to to the men's room and to my surprise, about ten people followed me.

So, there is a little bit of humor here, right?

If you can imagine me standing in the corner of the men's room in Hong Kong,

China with about ten guys standing around me and

they're asking me loads of questions.

So they were challenging me, they wanted my opinion and

my perspective on all kinds of things.

They were like completely different people.

So I'm asking myself, like who are these people,

and where were they 20 minutes ago when we were facilitating the course?

A light bulb went off.

Culturally, in some parts of the world, people are not comfortable challenging and

debating with a quote, unquote expert, and that was me, in this case.

So out of respect for me, in my standing as the expert on a given topic,

they were being very mindful about.

They didn't want to challenge me in front the room of people, or

debate with me in front of others.

They were simply digesting the fruits of our lecture in a very respectful way.

So, I learned from that.

And by design, we reacted quickly.

And what we started to do is we incorporated more breaks,

we revisited the design for the rest of our weeks for our session and

we created more informal opportunities for people to be at ease.

And that did spark a tremendous amount of discussion and questions, and people

really wanting to get our individual positions and point of view on things.

No one consulting now or presenting to an audience in China Hong Kong,

I really try to keep that little story in the back of my mind.

I think a couple of things that I would recommend to anybody

in that situation of course research in advance.

Don't make assumptions, we made some assumptions, and we didn't validate that.

And I would always advise anybody that's finding themselves

in the position of having to present to a different audience,

consult with others that maybe have been in that position.

Because I think that can make a really big difference as well.

>> That's a great story, and some wonderful strategies that you just shared.

Do you have any others that you've done in the past for different cultures, or

do you have a general approach that you use when you work across cultures, or

engage across cultural communication?

>> Yeah, it's a really good question, and like I said, I was trying to be mindful,

I think research goes a long way.

You're not going to be the only person that's been in that position.

And I think I get the best advice, like I said, from really trying to seek out and

find people that have been on those shoes before.

And they consultant, or person that's conducted business in other parts

of the world, they all have great stories, and

they've all learned something probably by making some mistakes.

So I think reaching out, finding those people, and

tapping into that you'll get a lot of great information.

And I genuinely find that, people that do work cross border are also very keen and

interested to talk about this topic.

>> Those are wonderful, thank you so

much for taking the time to speak with us, we really appreciate it.

>> It's my pleasure.

>> What I love about Brian's story,

is it captures the nuances of being on the ground, working cross-culturally.

And the agility as well as the preparation that it requires.

Let's turn to our next PWC profession, Nicole Carlisle.

She began her management consulting career with PWC Australia in her strategy and

performance improvement practice.

She then joined a US firm where she continued in an advisory

management consulting.

Given her extensive experience with organizational change,

I asked her to share a story about how she tailored a presentation

to fit different work cultures in the same organization.

Can you share a story with me about how cultural differences impacts

the presentation you gave?

>> Sure, so, the one that comes to mind involves talking to different

audiences within the same organization but tradition roles.

PWC was asked to come in to all the radiology departments in the state,

and digitize the whole system which would allow doctors,

the radiologists, to quickly look at the medical images.

So, part of our role,

it was to support the change management of the implementation of these systems.

And our job was to ensure that they'll use a benefit to

the system while we were implementing the system.

And then ensuring, once the system was implemented

that all the work flows required for it to go seamlessly were in place.

Essentially it is the same system and

a system, therefore, a specific purpose, right?

And, all the folks involved are interested in patient outcomes.

But how they help achieve positive patient outcomes and

diagnoses are all very different.

So, even though they are part of the same organization, culturally,

when we present it to them, it was very different.

We had to speak to a number of these groups within the department.

The radiologists, they're specialist doctors, looking at the images and

coming up with a diagnosis.

They're very outcome-driven.

They're taking a number of data points and coming up with a hypothesis,

a diagnosis of what the issue is, the problem is with the patient.

So they're very number driven.

When we would do our presentations, what resonated most was this high level,

qualitative comments like, well, this is going to change patient outcomes.

When we created these presentations,

before the radiologists, we were very quant-heavy, [INAUDIBLE] number driven.

It was, what are the patient outcomes with the new system?

How many patients can we see?

What's the turn around time?

We provided a lot of graphs, a lot of statistics then you have the nurses and

though in the same department their roles are incredibly different.

It's to ensure that patient journey, that work flow is seamless so

that we can get the image and radiologists can do their job.

And so their focus is less on the numbers and it was more of like,

what did this mean to my patient?

What did this do to my workflow and all the people I need to manage around it?

So we switch gears in the type of information that we are presenting.

We have folks who are working 12 hour days.

And, they can be at night shift, during the day.

And so when you're presenting, you need to flex to that.

You need to come to them.

You can't just pull people off the line and take them into a presentation room.

You bring your presentation to the coffee center.

You're presenting to a group of folks who have been on their feet for 11 hours and

it's their last hour, you need to make sure you bring coffee and doughnuts.

In these type of clinical environments,

you have to flex your presentation to the needs of the audience.

>> When you walked into the organization, did you know that these different cultures

existed or was it a process of learning about the organizations?

>> We had a good idea because we do our homework.

Before any other major presentation, we'd go on site, we do introduction.

It's also about having conversation with those audiences before you present to

them if you have that opportunity.

>> You also ask your stakeholder.

>> They're an incredible source of information.

We had a couple of doctors on the team.

And so, they are going to be patient focused.

It's about patient outcomes and clinical numbers.

And you gather all that intel and information and

then you create a presentation that addresses those things.

But, you do your first presentation and then you calibrate.

So, we added some graphs and numbers.

But there was a lot of energy when we discussed what their peers were doing and

we're interesting in best practice.

So that means, let's focus, let's bring it to the front.

>> Do you use some strategies to figure out what the culture is of

the different organizations?

>> It's being open and paying attention.

You can quickly tell,

this is a hierarchical organization where I can't go directly to the C-suite.

I need to work my way up the management chain versus this is more flat.

Can I just walk into the corner office and

have a conversation and not step on anyone's toes.

If you listen for those types of things and take all that information,

all the nuances and all the undertones of what you're hearing and

add that to your presentations.

>> I love what you just [INAUDIBLE].

I think you capture this wonderful dynamics and is there a strategy,

in terms of working across cultures, that you want to share with us?

>> Yeah, when you do give presentations, you are presenting information.

But the only way you're going to do that well is if you take the time to listen and

figure out who your audience is.

Because even though you may be rolling out the same system in one department,

there are three different cultures within that one department.

So if you’re thoughtful and you focus on my job Is to get some information or

knowledge across for the audience to do XYZ or to understand something.

It goes a long way in terms of how you prepare and how you present.

And be agile.

When you present, it's about engaging with your audience.

You need to figure out how your audience wants to receive that information.

And I think that's what I would leave you with.

>> That's great, thank you.

I love the nuances of what it takes to first understand different organizational

cultures and how to your presentation to those.

Okay, our final PWC professional that I will be speaking with is Christina Sonaki.

She has about 15 years of consulting experience in the deals practice.

Over these years, she had traveled to over 30 countries and

has interacted with different stakeholders,

work cultures ranking from executive boardrooms to manufacturing facilities.

Over these years, she had traveled to over 30 countries and

has interacted with different stakeholders,

work cultures ranking from executive boardrooms to manufacturing facilities.

Recently, research and strategy she uses to prepare for

cross cultural interactions and presentations.

She also shares an experience that she has that shows how factors such as gender

impact cross cultures experiences and creates their own unique dynamic.

Christina, I'd love to hear stories about,

how cultural differences impacted a presentation you gave?

>> Sure, so I have one particular story that I'm remembering.

I was a directoress, and I had a brand new associate with me.

But the associate was a male, and I've had times where I might ask a question,

and the client responds, but responds to the male in the room.

I found that was a little interesting because I'm not seeing the questions you

would think they would respond back to me but because I'm a female they weren't.

And it was just something that I had to deal with out there,

I don't see as often but it just they happened in more than once.

So, I don't think that's a bad thing,

just something that might happen if you're a female.

>> Very interesting.

>> And I don't know if it's because we're at a manufacturing plant where they're

just not use to having women as leadership around.

And this was only certain countries where I saw it happening.

>> So there might have been a mixture of work culture as well as a gender culture,

working together.

>> And the biggest thing for me is not to take it personally.

I see it as more of an issue with maybe them not being exposed to

women in the workplace who are women in more leadership positions,

and it's nothing that I saw as me doing wrong.

>> Is there a story that you can share about something that went wrong?

>> This wasn't me personally but

it was someone that was in the room with me had stomach issues when

we were traveling so they had some Tums and we could have just taken the Tums.

They offered it to the room, and because in certain cultures,

it's polite to take what you've been offered without knowing what it was,

that we had someone at our client site take one and just sucking on it and

you could tell from their face that they were really not enjoying the Tums.

So, I think just being aware of that.

[LAUGH] A good thing.

>> Do you have any strategies that you use?

>> I would just say preparation, reading the room, being agile, and

being able to change.

So if you see something as maybe not going in the best direction based on how

the questions and answers are going, just switching, being able to switch gears.

And, either switch to a different topic or move on.

I think that the being able to that was very important.

Being aware of my own facial expressions.

Knowing what those are, so that one,

I make sure that I am not doing anything that would be inappropriate and

then also too that I can understand that maybe what their expressions are.

I've had a few meetings where we even have a translator.

And, sometimes the translator is not really experienced

in what we do day to day, they're usually not.

So, we have to first take time and think about how we want to get the message

across to the translator so that the translator can then translate to

the client or to the person that we're presenting to.

>> After presenting and doing meetings in 30 different countries.

And you're starting day one of your 15 years,

what would you tell yourself about communicating across culture?

>> So understanding what the different nuances are in different countries,

so that you're not doing something that may be considered offensive.

And then you're also acting in a way that it was in line with what

they would expect.

I think it's very important to be aware.

I know that there's meeting that we have and

once we've been able to understand their background and kind of adapt,

we do have better meetings and getting better and better result,.

And then also building that rapport or trust that they maybe looking for.

So, I think it's very important to be understanding of where they're coming from

to make sure that we can build that good relationship and

really make it the most productive everything could be.

So I think really that research and then being prepared is really key.

>> This is wonderful information.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.

You've really hit on so many important points and

I've learned a lot in the process.

The stories that Brian, Nicole, and Christine shared with us really bring to

life how culture impacts presentations and communication.

They also showed us that working cross-culturally is a skill and

it is a skill we all need to develop to be successful.

The first step in developing this skill is increasing your self-awareness.

This means understanding how your social and

cultural background shapes how you think and behave.

This includes identifying your biases and blind spots, we all have them.

Second, you need to educate yourself about the cultures of the people you work

with and meet.

This knowledge will help you recognize where cultural differences might impact

your interactions and how to adjust your communication style.

But remember,

learning about the general characteristics of a culture is the first step.

Every situation is different.

Third, learn from others about how they successfully work cross culturally and

use your own experience to create new strategies.

COMM4 Communication and Culture in Practice: Portfolio

Submission date 15 May 2017

Guidance for teachers

Teachers are advised to refer to pages 19-27 of the Communication and Culture specification.

There are four topics:

Each candidate must select one topic. Each candidate must then select one theme from their chosen topic and then identify one issue which will form the basis of their coursework.

Topic guides are designed to inform, support and clarify what is required for each topic. Each topic guide contains an introduction, six themes and their associated clarifications/issues and suggested stimulus materials.

Both coursework pieces (case study and creative work) must address the same selected theme, though each of these will have its own title.

Further clarification, if required, is available from your coursework adviser. Please contact the Customer Support Team for your coursework adviser's contact details.

Step-by-step coursework guide

  1. Choose a topic
  2. Choose one of the six themes
  3. Devise a case study title that relates to issues within the chosen theme complete case study
  4. Devise a creative work title that also relates to issues within the chosen theme
  5. Complete creative work

The Past

In the last decade history has become once again, in all its forms, a staple of mass media entertainment (and edutainment) and yet there is a widely held opinion that our young people in particular are lacking a sense of historical context. The aim of 'The Past' as a topic is to exploit the interest and challenge the assumption.

The importance of understandings of 'The Past', including what it is, on our cultural identity as individuals and as a broader society is clear and well-rehearsed. As George Santayana famously suggested, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

There is plenty of scope here for examinations of histories: personal and national, cultural and political. Consider the various ways in which these are served up to us in a variety of contexts: at the dinner table, from the pulpit, through electronic devices and in the very streets we live and die in. From heritage and heroes to myths and calamities, it's all here – so many reports, so many questions.

The themes that accompany this topic reflect a number of central cultural concerns which candidates are invited to explore rigorously, focussing on one or two detailed case studies which allow them the opportunity to discuss in detail and depth some of the central issues.

The primary concern should be, as ever, on the cultural significances and meanings that can be generated from the theme.

Candidates are encouraged to examine and explore the cultural meanings, codes and conventions of 'The Past'.

Candidates should focus on the cultural issues in the topic and may select and develop their own titles through case studies.

Titles which include references to key concepts and/or theoretical approaches and/or sites of culture may prove more fruitful. A list of example titles is available on the AQA website.

Schools and/or colleges should seek guidance from their coursework adviser to clarify choices of angle and case study. Please contact the Communication and Culture Customer Support Team for your coursework adviser's contact details.

The Past: Theme 1

The Imagined Past: an exploration of how the past is represented in a variety of 'fictions'.

Here is an opportunity to pursue the topic across a range of fictional narratives and contexts. These range from historical fiction to graphic novels, from film and TV to songs and computer games.

The Past: Theme 2

The Heritage Industry: a theme park past.

How do we 'visit' the past? What narratives of the past are told through museums, heritage sites and artefacts? How do such places position us as spectators and participants? The 'commodification' of the past.

The Past: Theme 3

The Great Tradition: the co-option, incorporation or manipulation of historical material as part of Britishness.

Here one might explore interesting examples of how British values find expression through historical events, buildings and personalities as well as considering how such things have contributed to the 'myth' of Britishness.

The Past: Theme 4

The Subject of History: the practice of History teaching and learning in schools and elsewhere.

This theme enables candidates to address not only the History curriculum but also documentaries and other factual history media texts that influence our understanding of the past.

The Past: Theme 5

Remembering Things Past: exploring the past in everyday life through memory and ideas about identity.

This theme enables candidates to examine the ways in which personal experiences of the past are 'processed' and 'documented'. How does memory inform identity in families and communities?

The Past: Theme 6

Significant Anniversaries: what does 'who we remember' as a culture say about what we value.

Who and what do we 'commemorate' and why? Who is present and who is absent from the collective memory? What and who should be remembered?

The Past: possible stimulus material

A new set of suggested stimulus or starter materials, which may help generate ideas apposite to the topic, are available in Secure Key Materials.

The Sense of an Ending

'Ending' is defined by freedictionary.com as 'the act of bringing to or reaching an end' and 'the last part of something, as a book, film, etc.' Both of these will feature as opportunities in this final new topic for COMM4. However, this is not merely about loss, but rather about the various roles that 'closure' play in the making of meaning across the broadest range of our cultural experience from the end of term/school through the demise of well-loved institutions to the sobering recognition of what Philip Larkin called 'the solving emptiness that lies just under all we do' in a poem ominously titled Ambulances.

Thinking of 'the sense of an ending' underlines the character of the challenge that your coursework is invited to meet: the ways in which meanings are generated through and around notions of 'ending'. It has inspired at least two significant published responses. There is a famous work of literary criticism by Frank Kermode written in the 1960s which addresses the ways fictions address these issues. He argues that as historically fears about the end (eg of the world) have subsided, our fascination with the role of endings within life have increased, concluding 'No longer imminent, the end is immanent'. Kermode also explains the role of the critic, literary and cultural: "It is not expected of critics as it is of poets that they should help us to make sense of our lives; they are bound only to attempt the lesser feat of making sense of the ways in which we try to make sense of our lives." Julian Barnes' 2013 novel addresses some of these themes in a fictional form and begins with the relevant thought that "We live in time – it holds us and moulds us".

The language of 'conclusion', 'closure' and 'transition' courses through our negotiations of everyday life. We are forever 'seeking closure' or else 'a means to an end' since 'all good things come to an end' and hopefully 'All's well that ends well'. In simple terms, ideas about ends and endings are everywhere!

In terms of the ultimate ending, death, while the end of life experience is universal, the behaviours associated with expressing grief are very much culturally bound. Death and grief being normal life events, all cultures have developed ways to cope with death in a respectful manner but these approaches are very different and revealing. This includes funereal objects, the cultural stories which provide comfort and meaning and those particular places and spaces both real and imagined which provide contexts for these cultural rituals.

The range of themes offered in this topic reflects some of the debates suggested here, and students should be invited to engage in these arguments based on the case studies they potentially refer to. Students are encouraged to examine and explore the cultural meanings, codes and conventions of 'Ending' in all its senses.

Candidates should focus on the cultural issues in the topic and may select and develop their own titles through case studies. Titles which include references to key concepts and/or theoretical approaches and/or sites of culture may prove more fruitful. Schools and/or colleges should seek guidance from their coursework adviser to clarify choices of title and case study.

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 1: 'Loved and Lost' 

The end of institutions

Barely a week goes by without the closing down of some long-lasted and loved institution: BHS, Woolworths, the local pub, Lewis's, Blockbusters, Comet, Concorde, C&A, record shops, vinyl records, milkmen, the Liberal party, even this course, Wimbledon FC (The Crazy Gang), The British car industry. Also those institutions of popular culture: Top of the Pops, The Dandy, The Eagle, Jackie, Just Seventeen, Last of the Summer Wine, New Tricks, Harry Potter, The Daily Newspaper.

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 2: 'All good things…'

Significant changes in the way we live now

People talk about how things are not the way they used to be,  bemoaning the end or even death of much cherished practices from letter writing to childhood. Here is the opportunity to explore both the demise of significant cultural practices and the mythologizing of these practices. Examples include the death of conversation, family, relationships, seaside holidays, social drinking, ideology, history, the author, pop music, the High Street, smoking, churchgoing, doing the football pools, the working class, letter writing and landline phones (practices).

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 3: Dealing with Death

Dying as a cultural practice

"Death," wrote Saul Bellow "is the dark backing a mirror needs if we are to see anything." Certainly our responses to its finality create a plethora of products and practices which reveal much about our culture and its values. These cultural attitudes to and surrounding death, its rituals, even its politics provides fertile ground for productive critical analysis. Here are public and private responses from the national mourning of Diana Princess of Wales (complete with Elton John reboot) to roadside shrines, tributes, commemorations and memorials (trips to Highgate and Père Lachaise).

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 4: "On their hands a dead star"

Famous ends (the ends of the famous)

The BBC have broadcast TWICE as many obituaries in the first three months of 2016 compared to last year and five times as many as in 2012 as the age of the celebrity reaches its dotage. These endings have a drama all of their own propelled partly by social media which provide the essential commentary with tweets and likes (again most notably from other celebrities). How are these famous lives commemorated? Special editions, pull-out supplements, TV documentaries, a simple obituary? What is the status or qualifying standard for 'legend', 'a true original' or 'cultural icon these days?

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 5: Deus ex machina

Unravelling Denouement 

Denouement is a term that refers to the way in which stories, originally dramas are resolved, tying up the loose ends. Works of both high and popular culture concern themselves with 'the end' both as content and structure (eg disaster films and tragedies). Certain artistic movements or genres will characterise themselves as more or less 'apocalyptic' or 'eschatological' (eg Film Noir or the Surrealists).

The Sense of an Ending: Theme 6: Transitions

In my end is my beginning

Not all endings imply negativity. Many things are 'brought to an end' in an appropriate or timely fashion forming transitions from one phase to another. These include phases of employment or education, even from one relationship to another with or without the formality of divorce. They may also include 'rites of passage' like adolescence and even retirement and conscious acts of reinvention like changing your gender or 'coming out'. Here the ending is a merely a pause in an on-going process of 'becoming' (some would talk of 'rebirth').

The Sense of an Ending: Resource list

This list is not intended to be exhaustive in any sense. Teachers will inevitably assemble their own resources.

Non-fiction

The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction by Frank Kermode

Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (1959) Norman O Brown

Film

Apocalypse Now (either director's cut or the theatrical release version)

Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci)

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Kurt and Courtney (Broomfield)

Roger & Me (Michael Moore)

Last Days (Gus van Sant)

Music

Paint a Vulgar Picture, The Smiths

Big River, Jimmy Nail

The End, The Doors (1967)

Fiction

The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

V: Tony Harrison (poem)

Last Orders, James Kelman

Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson

The case study is a piece of academic writing in which all sources should be clearly acknowledged. These sources should be identified in a list of references.

Watching

Arguably, we take for granted the amount of time we spend 'watching', particularly screens, and at the same time we are increasingly made aware of how much we are being watched, by governments, corporations, and security monitors of one sort or another.

This duality of 'watching' perhaps lies at the heart of the identity debate as to whether we are active 'subjects of' (agents of our own responses, thoughts and behaviours), or 'subject to' the powers who oversee, for good or ill, our daily lives. Issues of self-presentation, arising out of the advent and entrenchment of technology in our lives, depend heavily on visuality, the sense of sight which is, of course, an innate ability, and yet one that is culturally constructed so that we see how we are constructed to see.

The themes that accompany this topic reflect a number of central cultural concerns which candidates are invited to explore rigorously, focusing on one or two detailed case studies which allow them the opportunity to discuss in detail and depth some of the key issues. The primary concern should be, as ever, on the cultural significance and meanings that can be generated from the theme.

Candidates are encouraged to examine and explore the cultural meanings, codes and conventions of 'Watching'. Candidates should focus on the cultural issues in the topic and may select and develop their own titles through case studies. Titles which include references to key concepts and/or theoretical approaches and/or sites of culture may prove more fruitful. A list of example titles is available on our website. Schools and/or colleges should seek guidance from their coursework adviser to clarify choices of angle and case study.

Watching: Theme 1

Visibility: This is the age of the camera, the screen and, above all, the image.

This theme deals with the idea that the spectacle and the spectacular have come to dominate contemporary culture. The idea is also expressed by 'Always On' media: moving images are such a constant feature of our lives that they fundamentally influence our behaviour, our values and our interpretations of reality. Some theorists have argued that the dominance of writing (logo-centric culture) is now in decline. Others suggest that we prefer watching to doing; that the primacy of the visual has changed us from participants to (mere) spectators.

Watching: Theme 2

Surveillance: The surveillance camera is a familiar and ubiquitous feature of modern life; is it also a metaphor for contemporary culture?

There are many linked issues which could be explored here. Firstly, there are the implications of state and corporate surveillance (ethical, moral, practical); secondly, the use of CCTV and user-generated material to fuel entertainment in reality TV shows or YouTube; thirdly, stalking via video camera. Is surveillance by video a legitimate means of controlling workers or shoppers or students? What does it mean to be watched? Have we all become habitual watchers?

Watching: Theme 3

Pleasures of The Look: The satisfactions derived from spectatorship in film, art, fiction and sport. Aesthetic responses to the visual.

Some critics have seen 'the gaze' in terms of voyeurism, power and subordination. Other theorists have tried to understand the deeply-rooted and meaningful pleasures of visual culture. This theme is an opportunity to explore the relationship between culture and beauty (or ugliness) and the ways in which culture influences our perception. It is also a place to investigate the role of design and appearance in our objects of desire.

Watching: Theme 4

Making Images/Image Making: Photography, videography and personal identity.

This theme deals with the many ways in which image-making is incorporated into our daily lives and our cultural practices. What is involved in the construction of these images and their labelling, manipulation, collection and distribution? The role of social networking sites is highly relevant here but so, too, are the ways in which we relate to personal technology and the projection of our identity. How, why and where do we (and did we) 'take pics'? How do we use them to control relationships and interpret our experiences?

Watching: Theme 5

'All Watched Over …': The watchman or sentinel in popular culture.

Many fictions deal with those who 'watch out' on our behalf, 'watch over' us or act as our eyes and ears. Superheroes (e.g. Batman or Judge Dredd) are invested with the moral authority to watch, guard and do battle on behalf of a 'protected' populace. So, too, are assorted spies (e.g. James Bond), watchful scientists and observers. There work is often done while we sleep. What is the ideological role of these sentinels?

Watching: Theme 6

Watching at the Edge: The apparently insignificant visual elements of everyday life.

This theme invites you to retrain your own visual perception in order to promote the insignificant and the ignored from the background to the foreground. Some features of our visual experience are so familiar that they become almost invisible; the marginalia of everyday life. Case studies of these apparently insignificant visual footnotes to our lives can reveal the 'extraordinary in the ordinary'.

Watching: possible stimulus material

A new set of suggested stimulus or starter materials which may help generate ideas apposite to the topic, are available in Secure Key Materials.

The Song

The ubiquity of music in everyday life is self-evident, as is its popularity and significance in our culture, and in all cultures.

The importance of songs on our individual identity is clear and well-rehearsed in the media; less attention is paid to our cultural identity, our subjectivity, where in the past the song has been the medium through which we have learned our history and a strong sense of a communal identity.

There is also some demand for an evaluative critique of the role of the media with regard to 'the song' as a commercial commodity, which many critics have seen as antithetical to our personal ownership of the song. Downloading, it can be argued, has returned the song to a former if different kind of pre- eminence following a period when, if a recent BBC4 documentary is to be believed, 'the album ruled the world'.

The themes that accompany this topic reflect a number of central cultural concerns which candidates are invited to explore rigorously, focusing on one or two detailed case studies which allow them the opportunity to discuss in detail and depth some of the central issues.

The primary concern should be, as ever, on the cultural significance and meanings that can be generated from the theme. Candidates are encouraged to examine and explore the cultural meanings, codes and conventions of 'The Song'.

Candidates should focus on the cultural issues in the topic and may select and develop their own titles through case studies.

Titles which include references to key concepts and/or theoretical approaches and/or sites of culture may prove more fruitful. A list of example titles is available on our website.

Schools and/or colleges should seek guidance from their coursework adviser to clarify choices of angle and case study.

The Song: Theme 1

The Song As Text: an exploration of a single song referring to its cultural, historical, musical and personal significance.

Here is an opportunity to pursue a song, or contrasting songs, in some detail and depth exploring the kinds of meanings generated by lyric and musical production. The idea of changing context is important as to production and reception of the song, as are ideas of intertextuality, borrowing, mashing, homage, sampling and other modes of development or transgression.

The Song: Theme 2

Redemption Songs: song as public statement of commitment.

The protest song. How effective are songs in defying or challenging dominant ideology? How do songs unite groups, at, say, national level through anthems, or at group levels, through terrace chanting, popular choirs, or pub or festival sing-alongs? How do we use music as a kind of ritual?

The Song: Theme 3

Sold Out: the co-option, incorporation or manipulation of songs for advertising, marketing or propaganda.

Here one might search for some interesting examples of how popular (or classical) songs have been embedded into commercial practices like advertisements, after their success as songs in a cultural or sub-cultural context? How are brands and products reinforced by their assimilation of songs?

The Song: Theme 4

The singer not the song: the act of performance and the cultural construction of the singer.

This theme focuses on the actual performance of a song, or songs, in a wide arc of potential contexts. The voice is used as a means of projecting or investing meaning in a song where the slightest variation can signify enormously. This theme explores the link between words, music and delivery. It also lends itself to comparing and contrasting different versions of the same song.

The Song: Theme 5

This is my song: everyday life and song. The integration of songs into daily routines and rituals.

This theme enables candidates to examine the way songs are integrated into daily routines and rituals, often through radio programmes, but also through social networking. It is also a space where the relationship between song and identity or subjectivity can be reflected upon; the way songs can speak for us, articulating thoughts and feelings, with a wide range of critically evaluative problems arising. How do audiences become involved in song (competitions, karaoke) and how do we express the pleasure of the song?

The Song: Theme 6

Wondrous stories: songs as stories and stories as songs. The role of song in film, musical, storytelling.

How do images and songs integrate? And how are songs employed to tell the stories of people, of communities, of the genre itself (the ballad, the Blues)? There is also room here to examine the ways that musical forms from the traditional to the avant-garde construct narratives of pleasure and pain, of incident and accident, and a wealth of other sentiments.

The Song: possible stimulus material

A new set of suggested stimulus or starter materials which may help generate ideas apposite to the topic, are available in Secure Key Materials.

0 thoughts on “Communication And Culture Presentation Coursework

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *