The development of television literacy : talk, text and context
This thesis seeks to contribute to a theory of 'television literacy' - that is, of the understandings and competencies children employ in interpreting and using the medium - which is both social and developmental. The main focus of the research is on the way s in which these competencies are mobilised and defined in small-group talk. The data are drawn from a series of interviews with a core sample of ninety children in three different age groups, aged between seven and twelve. The groups were varied in order to provide for systematic comparisons in terms of age, social class, gender and ethnicity. Analysis of the data draws particularly on approaches derived from discourse analysis, and is related to hypotheses raised in previous research, particularly within the fields of cognitive psychology and media studies. The thesis begins with a review of the theoretical paradigms which have been employed in analysing the relationship between children and television, and a critical account of previous definitions of 'television literacy' within educational and psychological research. The second section of the thesis discusses some methodological problems associated with the status and interpretation of small-group interviews in this field. It goes on to offer an alternative analytical framework, which considers the relationships between the content of talk, the subject positions of speakers and the social relations of the interview group. The third section considers children's use of 'higher order' concepts which are the focus of media education, namely those of genre, representation, modality and agency. In each case, the analysis of empirical data is related to a critical review of previous research in the field. In the final section, conclusions and implications for future qualitative audience research and for media education are considered.