Original Research Examining YouTube Users' (YouTubers') Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors: The Bronx Pilot Study

Original Research Examining YouTube Users' (YouTubers') Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors: The Bronx Pilot Study

Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 37
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9855-0.ch007
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YouTube offers a wealth of combined, creative, and surprisingly expert-vetted knowledge on a variety of topics across ethnicities and culture. Even though it appears that YouTube focuses on kittens, pandas, and exploding bottles of soda, it actually provides knowledge across a wide spectrum, from how to play piano or iron a shirt to learning about hegemony from Noam Chomsky on YouTube (TheEthanwashere, 2012). Partly through its design (ease of use), purpose, and worldwide ubiquity, YouTube has also become a depository for enormous amounts of what many people think is useless dreck. This chapter and the next chapter provide a historical snapshot of two important YouTube research studies. The Bronx Pilot Study, described in detail here, provided the foundation and research design for a more robust and complex study several years later: the New Jersey YouTube Experience Study. To date, most scholarly research about YouTube has tended to focus on YouTube content (i.e., types of videos created and/or shared), the marketing and commercial aspects of YouTube, specific groups in YouTube and their political activities, and of course the unusual videos that “go viral” and end up on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon or Tosh 2.0. Each research study reported in this book employs a Uses and Gratifications (UG) framework grounded in Cultural Studies (CS). Each study analyzed YouTubers' attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors in relation to YouTube. As a reminder, a “YouTuber” is anyone who uses YouTube to post a comment, watch videos, or upload or download videos. While not experimental, the Bronx Study provides insight and direction for further Social Sciences-based YouTube research.
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The Bronx Youtube Pilot Study

Researcher’s Role

The online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary describes heuristic as “involving or serving as an aid to learning or discovery by problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods”(Merriam-webster.com, 2014); this definition informed the exploratory YouTube in the Bronx from a CS and UG perspective. For the Bronx YouTube Study, great care was taken to position the researcher as an observer of phenomena rather than as a replicator of previous studies, as there was no similar research extant at the time and none exists as of this writing.

Research Methods

For the focus group interviews, the following techniques and focus group research design suggested by Miles and Huberman (1994) to establish the focus group framework were used: (a) building a conceptual framework from which, ultimately, interview questions were developed; (b) formulating research questions; (c) defining the case; (d) bounding the collection of data; and (e) instrumentation. In terms of the focus group interviews, as well as the survey instrument design, Corbin and Strauss (2008) articulated several characteristics of a grounded theory approach that the researcher attempted to adopt. Strauss and Corbin stated, “Researchers need not necessarily begin their first studies with these characteristics full developed” (p. 275).

For the Bronx YouTube study, several research design characteristics articulated by Strauss and Corbin were adopted. For instance, when structuring and writing questions, analyzing focus group interview data, and developing procedures for the focus group interviews, the researcher attempted to “step back and critically analyze situations, recognize the tendency toward bias, think abstractly, be flexible and open to helpful criticism, be sensitive to the words and actions of the respondents and develop an sense of absorption and devotion to the work process” (Corbin & Strauss, 2014, p. 7). These characteristics are part of the grounded theory approach to qualitative research. Although the Bronx YouTube Study was not specifically based on grounded theory, some aspects of this framework were very useful.

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