UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Audiences exposed : communication and discipline in the Philippines in the Twentieth Century Paradela, Teilhard


This study examines audience research in the Philippines from the early twentieth century to the collapse of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. It charts the development of this field of research from the simple pen-and-paper surveys on media exposure to the complex ethnographic datasets of a large government agency. It argues that audience research has provided the epistemological infrastructure for the elites of the country to understand Filipinos as audiences, not as fellow citizens with rights. Audience research and the academic discipline of Mass Communications have provided the elites a way of seeing their power as performative. The study of how people engage with the media has been bound up with political strategies of censorship, propaganda, and surveillance. The will to know what audiences are thinking has always been combined with a will to influence their thinking. I call this audience discipline – the imperative to make the people limit their agency to being an audience of the economic, political, and cultural elites. This thesis describes how audience research in the Philippines has been animated by the social imaginary of the barrio and the bakya, the elite’s fantasy of simple-minded commoners, and has facilitated the increasing authoritarianism of the state. President Ferdinand Marcos, in declaring martial law in 1972 and ruling as a dictator until 1986, relied on audience research for guiding his strategies of censorship, propaganda, and surveillance. He and his wife, Imelda Marcos, understood power as performative and turned the imperative of audience discipline into a defining and durable feature of the relationship between the elite and the Filipino people.

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