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Title: Meeting the superhumans : Channel Four, disability and the 2012 Paralympic Games
Author: Jackson-Brown, Carolyn Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7233 6806
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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Channel Four’s media coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is said to have delivered a seismic shift in attitudes towards those with disabilities. But why and how was a marginalised group brought into the mainstream by the media? What were the influencing factors and who made the decisions? By interviewing key people involved in the television production process, and accessing some of their internal documentation, my doctoral research sheds light on how meanings about disability were constructed and delivered, from the top down and across the creative workflow. Drawing on elements of both cultural studies and political economy, this thesis investigates the complex and entangled production mechanisms asking why, how and what representations of disability were promoted by the decision-makers and communicated as their preferred meanings. Using Hall’s theory of constructivist encoding, influences on representation and meaning are analysed through the theoretical lenses of the critical political economy, disability theory and Goffman’s conceptualisations of stigma management. I also examine how sporting tropes and programme formats were used and adapted to reduce the stigma of ‘otherness’ and bring a marginalised group into the mainstream. Channel Four’s unique funding model, and risk-taking remit, are repeatedly under review and this project explores the relationship between the channel’s commercial, industrial and organisational contexts alongside individual agency and creative constraints. The study provides a systemic perspective, separating institutional influences and individual influences from the surrounding commercial environment, to map how each of these trigger adaptive changes in each other.
Supervisor: Klein, Bethany ; Thumim, Nancy Sponsor: Institute of Communication Studies ; University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available