Television realism : a semiotic approach
This thesis reconceptualises the concept of realism in relation to television using a semiotic approach. The Thesis proposes that "realism" may be used as a tool for the understanding of the place of television texts in the legitimation and representation of social relations. The theoretical approach is based on semiotic work that foregrounds the social constitution of meaning; particularly the work of Barthes on myth, Bakhtin, Kress and Volosinov. From film studies, Bordwell and Nichols are also used. The concepts drawn from their work are applied to a reformulation of realism in direct reference to the signifiers of television texts. Realism is considered in the light of these theories as not one specific form but as a property of all texts: of how a represented "world" is constructed and understood in social life. The study focuses on a small number of the totality of semiotic resources that contribute to the construction of realism in television: camera movement, camera stability and camera position, shot duration and continuity. It provides a detailed transcription and analysis of a number of television texts from different theme areas: the news, police drama and documentary and a game/quiz show. I propose in this thesis that the use of semiotic resources in different ways in different texts produces distinct realisms that in their represented "world" express certain values and interests in respect of wider social relations of power. Television texts are therefore the product of changing social environments and the resources used in their production represent this.