Media consumption patterns of Taiwanese women living in New Zealand and their implications for adjustment to New Zealand society
Cheung, Eric Sui Ting
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Mass media is often seen as the major socialisation agent in this era. It regulates and reinforces the behaviour of people. It moulds people to operate within the prevailing social environment. If these powers claimed for the mass media are universal, they can be very useful in the settlement processes of new comers to our country. This thesis research the alleged powers of mass media among a distinct social group, new female residents of Taiwanese origin who do not have English as their first language. With the assistance of the Taiwanese Women’s Association, the researcher collected thirty questionnaires and conducted four in-depth interviews from their members and friends. The findings of research suggest that female television consumption patterns identified by Morley and Hobson are not fully applicable to this group of women. The improvements of technology and accessibility provided new conditions for the power relations and consumption patterns of these women. Although the women in this research did use mass media to enhance their settlement processes in New Zealand, mass media did not seem to have a dominant influence on their settlement process immediately after their arrival. Other Taiwanese who have been living in New Zealand were the main source of information and social activities. The importance of mass media grew as these women spent more time in New Zealand. They reported using media products to acquire information about New Zealand and to improve their English. However different media categories seemed to influence the social life of these women differently. High users of local free to air television programs responded to the social questions more negatively than high users of other media categories. At the same time, those who used predominantly Chinese Satellite television responded the most positively. It leads to the speculation that exposure to local television content may hinder their settlement processes. The lack of English language skills was a factor that constantly surfaced in this research. While these women did use English language media, their level of understanding is problematic. Subsequently, some women used Chinese language media to supplement the information gap. However the importance and use of ethnic media for diasporic communities is problematised because of accessibility and quality issues. Migrant settlement is conceptualised in different ways. It changes with the social ideology of the country and the time. The findings of this research suggest that universal settlement indicators may not be applicable to these women. More significantly, the women seem to see that successful settlement is not a pre-requisite of happiness. While these women may not have a high level of integration into the wider communities, the Taiwanese communities are sufficiently large enough to deliver a range of services to satisfy their social needs. In the course of this research, the researcher realised that a range of personal and social reasons influenced the settlement process and the media consumption patterns of these women. The findings did help to promote understanding these women; they also left more questions to be explored.