The television message as social object : a comparative study of the structure and content of television programmes in Britain
THE TELEVISION MESSAGE AS SOCIAL OBJECT: A comparative study of the structure and content of television programmes in Britain (excluding public affairs, children's television and shorts). The thesis will be both a theoretical and empirical examination of the applicability of the varieties of analysis of symbolic orders which have been advanced by such writers as Levi-Strauss and Foucault. The thesis is an exploration, through the study of the narrative structure of a series of television drama programmes, of the relationship between television, myths and folktales. Following upon work done principally by Claude Levi-Strauss and Vladimir Propp, but also others writing in the field of semiological and structural analysis, a detailed examination of the video-recorded texts of a thirteen part drama series is presented. It is argued in the context of an examination of, respectively, television and language, television and the mythic, and of the nature of narrative, that the television drama preserves the forms which otherwise might be thought of as particular to oral culture and communication. Television, in its preservation of these forms, and in its generally mythic character, gains its effectiveness thereby and must be understood sociologically in such terns. The effect of such an understanding, it is argued, will be to challenge any comprehension of the medium simply as the particular product of a particular historical period and/or an imposition in culture of one world view on an other. The television message is both a collective product and a transhistorical one. It is argued that on both counts it needs to be understood as a genuine expression of a social need, though in its expression of that need it does not necessarily simply act to preserve existing social and cultural conditions.