Local talk as a grounded method: elaborating media and public opinion on Indigenous issues

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    Drawing on Herbst's (1998, 2001) theorising on public opinion, this paper argues that local discussion of public issues is an important site of public opinion formation and expression that has been ignored in the measurement and modelling of public opinion. Talk in local terrains - local talk - is entwined with, but conceptually and epistemologically independent of, mobilised opinion, mediated discourses and polled opinion. The narratives used in everyday conversation to understand and explain Indigenous issues draw on combinations of media frames, local experience and wider cultural knowledge. Significantly, at the local level, Australians illustrate reflexivity about the role that policy-makers, the media,and talk itself play in the construction of public opinion about Indigenous issues. Throughout the talk of Australians about wider Indigenous issues examined for this research, Redfern emerged as an important site for the multiple and contested understandings of Indigenous issues. This paper uses Redfern as a case study of both media representations and local talk about Indigenous issues, to examine how local talk can provide a powerful resource for understanding public opinion on Indigenous issues in Australia, and to illustrate the grounded study of local talk as a model for the exploration and elaboration of public opinion on other social issues
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)113-121
    Number of pages8
    JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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