Reacting to Reality Television: Performance, Audience and Value

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Routledge, May 4, 2012 - Social Science - 264 pages
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The unremitting explosion of reality television across the schedules has become a sustainable global phenomenon generating considerable popular and political fervour.

The zeal with which television executives seize on the easily replicated formats is matched equally by the eagerness of audiences to offer themselves up as television participants for others to watch and criticise. But how do we react to so many people breaking down, fronting up, tearing apart, dominating, empathising, humiliating, and seemingly laying bare their raw emotion for our entertainment? Do we feel sad when others are sad? Or are we relieved by the knowledge that our circumstances might be better? As reality television extends into the experiences of the everyday, it makes dramatic and often shocking the mundane aspects of our intimate relations, inviting us as viewers into a volatile arena of mediated morality.

This book addresses the impact of this endless opening out of intimacy as an entertainment trend that erodes the traditional boundaries between spectator and performer demanding new tools for capturing television’s relationships with audiences. Rather than asking how the reality television genre is interpreted as ‘text’ or representation the authors investigate the politics of viewer encounters as interventions, evocations, and more generally mediated social relations.

The authors show how different reactions can involve viewers in tournaments of value, as women viewers empathise and struggle to validate their own lives. The authors use these detailed responses to challenge theories of the self, governmentality and ideology.

A must read for both students and researchers in audience studies, television studies and media and communication studies.

 

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Contents

Reacting to Reality Television
1
From Representation to Intervention
21
2 Performance and the Value of Personhood
48
3 Textual Intimacies
80
Methodology
113
5 Affect and Ambiguity Not Governmentality
134
The Making of the Moral Person
159
Recognizing Labour and Value
187
Intimacy Ideology Value and Politics
215
Index
237
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About the author (2012)

Helen Wood is Reader in Media and Communication, in the Department of Media, Film and Journalism at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Beverley Skeggs is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She held the Kerstin Hesselgren Professor in Gender Studies at Stockholm University and is an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, UK. She has worked in the areas of Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies as well as Sociology.

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