The impact of Thatcherism on representation of work and unemployment in television drama
This thesis argues for an analysis of popular television in relation to the dominant political ideas and values of Thatcherism. Examining the power of popular entertainment genres to inscribe and inform public understanding of political debates, the thesis offers an analysis of television realism in relation to genres such as situation comedy and drama serials. Using the work of Antonio Gramsci, Stuart Hall, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes and the Bakhtin Circle, the methodology concentrates on a discursive model of interpretation which draws on elements of semiotic and discourse analysis. It refers to the field of hermeneutics in order to address some of the problems of textual analysis and considers the ontological problems of television realism, particularly as they relate to the representation of political ideas. The thesis also considers the role of realism as an important ideological feature of dramatic representation on television. The contribution of the thesis to the field of Media Studies lies in its engagement with the sphere of political discourse in relation to popular television programmes over a specific period of intense ideological activity. In choosing to examine Thatcherite discourse in relation to work and unemployment, the thesis considers issues of class and gender in relation to changing attitudes to unemployment as expressed through narrative and other discursive patterns in the medium of television drama. The thesis argues that television drama of the period responded to the dominant rhetoric of Thatcherite politics concerning work and unemployment with a variety of identifiable structures and dramatic strategies. The ideological import of these strategies is assessed through a combination of textual analyses and socio-political appraisal of the phenomenon of Thatcherism.