Why should we be interested in T.V when studying culture?
T.V is a reflection of culture or social reality like music, it is a ‘social ritual’ in which we all share
It is produced for a mass audience which makes it part of ‘popular culture’
It transmits cultural values or dominant ideology
It is capable of satisfying the cultural needs of a diverse group of viewers
T.V is an ‘agent’ of socialisation - we construct our identities based on different representations and role models
The role of TV in your life
“ In the UK the average television set is switched on for between five and six hours a day, and the average British adult watches for approximately three hours. Recent research has shown that the average child born in the mid‑1990s, when 18 years of age, will have spent more time watching television than any other activity except sleep.”
In what ways does TV affect your life? How often do you watch? How long for?
Write down your ten favourite programmes from childhood. Compare your list with a partner.
Now compare your lists with the rest of class. How many programmes do you have in common?
Does television serve the same function in British people’s lives as it did in the past?
Do we watch TV in the same way as we used to 20 years ago?
Does it satisfy our social needs?
Whose culture was reflected in early T.V broadcasting?
Watch these early clips of the BBC – which class is being reflected? Look at the clothing, settings, accents and genres of programmes http:// www.bbc.co.uk /heritage/story/ You can also find some of these clips on this website http://www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/story/
The role of the BBC in British cultural life
During the Second World War the BBC, as the first national broadcaster, assumed cultural authority and importance - their founding principles were to “educate, inform and entertain”.
Which of those principles (educate, inform, entertain) do you feel was the most important, having watched the earlier clips?
BBC saw itself as the guardian of morals, provider of ‘culture’ - which definition of culture do you think this meant?
Representation of Gender, Race and Class
Look at the following programme clips from the 1940s and 50s. How are men and women shown? What roles do they take? What kind of programmes do they appear in? http://www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/story/1940s2.shtml http://www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/story/1950s.shtml
What kinds of people are in these programmes? How many working class or ordinary people or life are depicted?
What kind of issues and social trends were reflected in T.V of different eras?
Look at different genres of programmes - news, drama, popularity of different genres
How have genres changed over time - police drama, soaps, fantasy and escapism?
Sitcoms regarded as a rich form of cultural expression - why?
Issues and eras
Find in your notes a brief history of T.V programming and the links with social trends and issues - look at it carefully and underline in different colours - gender, race and class concerns. http://www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/story/1960s.shtml Race
Try to watch some clips from these programmes on the BBC website
http:// www.bbc.co.uk /comedy/clips/
We also need to understand how, why and with what effects people consume T.V.
Not all theorists believe the same thing about how TV affects us – there are several effects models
1. Hypodermic model
2. Cultural effects
3. Uses and gratifications
So-called because, like being given an injection, this theory assumes that if you watch something you are directly affected by it, like being injected with drugs.
e.g if you watch violence, you go out and commit violent acts Common belief, for example, killers of Jamie Bulger supposed to have watched Childsplay.
Simplistic model – media not the biggest influence on people – family, peers etc much stronger influence
Cultural Effects model The thinking behind this theory centres on the long-term effects of particular ideological representations on our beliefs and values. Media representations of beautiful women have been influential in giving both men and women a view of the ‘ideal women’. This now extends to men.
Uses and Gratifications Theory
The assumption with this theory is that individuals are active participants in the mass communication process – that people use TV and other media to satisfy their needs. McQuail, Blumler & Brown categorised these needs into four types:
The need to reinforce a view of personal identity by comparing our own roles and values with similar roles and values represented in the media.
The need to have companionship and interaction with others – characters in the media take on the role of a ‘real’ friend or acquaintance
The need to be informed
The need for entertainment and diversion – need for fantasy as an escape from the constraints of reality.
How to conduct uses and gratifications research
Use an informal group of friends, whom you know enjoy the genre you are researching – get them to give you reasons why they enjoy watching it.
Make a list of these statements along with some of your own, which should relate to the needs stated in the previous slide.
Construct a questionnaire using the statements, and a sliding scale – strongly agree, agree etc.
Now take your questionnaire to a new sample of 20 people. Make sure you ask equal amounts of males and females so that you can see if gender is a factor.
Sample questionnaire I watch because my family does I can relate to the characters I enjoy discussing the programme with my friends I watch because I enjoy escaping from normal life Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree Statements
Programme Case Studies
We are going to look at The Simpsons, Will & Grace, L-Word and Eastenders as case studies in lessons - key areas of interest will be representations of gender and sexuality, class and race and how issues of concern in society are explored and expressed. In The Simpsons we will also be interested in the effect of post-modernism.
You will be expected to do a programme study of your own on a genre or programme of your choice. Part of this study will be to do your own uses and gratifications research.
Feminist – how are women represented on television, how do women consume television – what sort of programmes do they watch and in what sort of social conditions, how do they interpret them and identify with them? Which gender controls and produces television?
Marxist – how are different classes represented, which class controls and produces television, what sort of programmes do different classes watch and how do they interpret and identify with them?
Post-colonialist - how are different ethnic groups represented on television, how do different ethnic groups consume television – what sort of programmes do they watch and in what sort of social conditions, how do they interpret them and identify with them? Which ethnic group controls and produces television?
Postmodernist – how do different influences, genres, eras influence television?