Multilayered Flows, Multilayered Audience Identities, and Television Consumption

The movement from traditional local life to modern interaction with mass media produced identities that were multilayered, with cultural geographic elements that are local, regional, and transnational based on enduring cultural linguistic regions (Sinclair, Jacka, & Cunningham, 1996), and national (Anderson, 1983). Both traditional and new media users around the world continue to strongly reflect these “modern” layers or aspects of identity while many also acquire new layers of identity that are transnational, US-influenced, or in some specific circumstances, global.

These increasingly multilayered identities are articulated with a variety of changing structures (Hall, 1997). Economies, political powers, social class, and geography strongly structure who can access which new channels. Media institutions themselves are becoming more complexly multilayered as they reach further geographically. Institutional models, such as commercial television networks, globalize, but are also localized and regionalized as they engage the specific histories and institutions of a variety of cultures, media traditions, and regulatory systems. Identities also layer up as people migrate, acculturate to new cultures, live abroad, travel, learn languages, join or leave religions, and, although the experiences are less directly personal and less intense, perhaps as they acquire access to new forms of media.

New layers form over the top of all others as structural circumstances permit or even dictate. Sometimes when we look at people, for instance, we are likely to see the newest layer as strongest. Many observers, when they look at a culture these days, see on top a new layer that they might call globalization. So seeing this as a new and highly visible layer, they might suppose that this is perhaps now the dominant layer, perhaps homogenizing all the others. Or perhaps even the dominant aspect of someone’s identity or experience.

In this emerging model, people increasingly identify with multiple cultures at various layers or spaces. People identify with multiple cultural groups or symbols in different fields of activity (Bourdieu, 1984). People establish different identities at school and work, in sports or religion, with family and friends. In the process of learning from others, people form multiple layers of cultural capital, often specific not only to a field of activity, as Bourdieu (1984) predicted, but to different cultural layers.

All of these different layers of identity and culture will have varied connections to global, cultural linguistic, national, and local spaces and forces. A US soccer fan might begin to identify with European or Latin American teams and might seek out global soccer content on the internet or watch transnational soccer channels on satellite or cable TV. These different layers of identity and culture are based in varying combinations of cultural geography, institutional strategies and alliances, and cultural productions based on genre linked to institutions, nations and other cultural spaces.


This study is based on secondary analysis of data from TGI Latina, a biannual marketing and media consumption survey conducted in eight Latin American countries by the Miami-based marketing intelligence firm Kantar Media, with fieldwork by IBOPE (Instituto Brasileiro de Opiniao Pública e Estatistica, in Portuguese) and its other subsidiaries in Mexico and South America.

The analysis presented in this chapter focuses on data from 2004 through 2014, which covered eight countries in Latin America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. For each country, a probability sample was projected to represent the total household and individual population in potential markets of interest. With the exception of Mexico, where the sample represents 20 cities across Mexico, most of the samples are limited to a few major metropolitan areas—eight in Brazil, far fewer in most other countries. This is important because people in major metro areas are richer, better educated, and more connected to a variety of communication technologies than are the national general population. For example, in 2012, 64% in the Kantar metro sample in Brazil had access to the internet, while the number in the general population was 44%. So, although the total number of respondents for all eight countries was 61,400, which represent a universe of more than 176 million people in the region covered, we have to remember that we can generalize to major metropolitan areas but not national general populations.

TGI Latina surveys are conducted door-to-door, with a combination of personal interviews and a paper survey left behind by the interviewer to be retrieved at a later date. Interviewers followed a skip pattern for sampling that was based on the physical location of respondents’ homes. Since response rates were low among some important demographic groups—notably households at the bottom and at the top of the SES (socio-economic status) scales, and those in remote areas—TGI Latina weighted the responses to better represent the overall population.

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