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Ordinary people on television: a historical study of change, continuity and transformation

This project aims at conducting an empirical historical investigation of Swedish television. It focuses on change, continuity and transformation as regards the construction of "ordinary" people in four overarching genres: advice programs, debate and talk shows, game shows and reality shows. We investigate, more specifically, the development of television genres and formats with a focus on forms of participation, constructions of ordinariness and forms of addressing and involving audiences.

The project comprises five studies. The first is an overarching mapping of two months of output per decade (1960-2010) which includes SVT 1, SVT 2, TV 3, TV 4 and TV 5. We map the occurrence of programs where "ordinary" people participate in different genres. The four other studies investigate the genres mentioned above and for each genre we both examine its development over time and conduct in-depth analyses of smaller samples. Our methods are Conversation Analysis and Discourse Analysis.

Previous research on the representation of "ordinary" people on television mainly comprises theoretical discussions and studies of particular programs. As far as we know this is the first encompassing study that systematically investigates "ordinary" people´s participation in different genres and formats over time. Since similar media developments occur in other countries, our findings will allow us to contribute to make essential theoretical contributions to this field of study.

Project leader: Göran Eriksson (Örebro University)
Other researchers/participants: Mats Ekström (JMG, The University of Gothenburg) Leonor Camauer (Örebro University)
Financed by: the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Page Manager: Mats Ekström|Last update: 2/7/2013

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