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Title: Watching families : parenting, reality television and popular culture
Author: Ferguson, Galit
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 7042
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2009
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This interdisciplinary thesis provides a contemporary-historical, psychoanalytically inflected study around family-help reality television programmes. The combination of psychoanalytic and discursive perspectives, and the focus on popular cultural texts positions this as a psychocultural study. Focussing on Supernanny, Honey We're Killing the Kids and House of Tiny Tearaways, engagements with theses hows and issues around parenting on the web, and policy representational texts, I argue that such programmes and surrounding texts articulate a set of `affective discourses' that are also present in theoretical writing and representations about family and/or reality television. These discourses are often reactionary, and always paradoxical. The programmes in question can be regarded as an anxious distillation of ideological and emotional contradictions, a remediation of parenting and family which fans the very anxieties it purports to soothe. A study of `web audiencing' alongside a close analysis of both theoretical and televisual texts allows an unravelling of the contradictory elements of this `family-help' phenomenon, and its connections with class, shame, and fantasies of the split good/bad parent and child. The thesis begins by examining the cultural context for such concerns by providing a contemporary-historical psychocultural analysis of the UK family as a social and cultural construction in the late 200' and early 21" centuries. Through a focus on the concept of family as a psychosocial construction and the varied attempts to grapple with it in the media, this thesis also shows that ideology and affect are inextricable, especially when they seem furthest apart. This thesis offers a nuanced picture of familial discourses and related affects in contemporary Britain. It also contributes an original psychocultural analysis of popular media, incorporating a refiguring of the media audience in its work on `web audiencing', a psychoanalytically inflected yet materially contextualised textual analysis of reality television shows which do not often garner close textual attention, and a strong argument for a multiperspectival psychocultural perspective in media and popular cultural analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available