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Title: The politics and economics of preschool children's television: a production and audience research study
Author: Cochrane, Alexandra Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 2752 9537
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2012
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Using production and audience research methods, this thesis investigates how the politics and economics of production affect the preschool audience (three to seven- years). Arising from literature reviews and interviews with the producers of the Northern Irish eo-production of Sesame Street, three studies explore the responses of preschool viewers to representations of gender and culture in three live-action segments from Sesame Tree. The studies support literature review findings regarding the importance of gender to young children. In the pilot and main studies, participants (three to seven-years) responded along traditional gender lines to representations of Irish dancing and marching. Producers chose to use gender stereotyping in the activities, as they feared a more balanced depiction might have resulted in the segment being considered unrealistic and the message of tolerance disregarded by viewers. The thesis argues that a less gender-typed portrayal would enable children to respond to the segments' message rather than the participants' gender. Gender and culture were confounded in the segments, so a follow-up study was conducted with children (eight and IO-years) to separate them. No sectarian sentiments were expressed but an increased awareness of the cultural significance of the activities was observed. Marching was regarded negatively by the majority of boys and girls. It is suggested this should be taken into account by producers portraying this activity for the preschool audience. Sesame Tree did not address issues of cultural significance explicitly because this conflicted with the agenda of one of the co-producers, The participants did not recognise the implied message of cultural respect. This research argues the protective silence technique did not best serve the viewers, who are growing up in a divided society. It concludes that pro social programming for children in Northern Ireland should adopt an open, sensitive approach to discussions of life in a post-conflict society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available