Title

Cultural Values, Narratives and Myth In Reality Television

Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Mazharul Haque

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

Television programming today consists of many unique genres, many of which have existed since the birth of television in 1948. Although reality television is considered a relatively new genre of television programming, this genre has proven a vital, contributing type of programming since the development of early programs such as Candid Camera, Queen For a Day and I'd Like to See. Scholarly research has demonstrated the importance of television programming as a form of cultural transmission within society. Further, scholarly research on reality television programming has investigated the implications of the genre of reality television programming on the broadcasting industry as a whole. This critical analysis recognizes the contribution of research on reality television as a genre, but questions the thoroughness and the limited amount of research to determine the viability of this genre of programming. Additionally, there is limited, if any, research on the values, narratives and myths, which exist within this genre. Thus, this study illustrates how reality television may create, nurture and perpetuate certain ideological positions and value systems within society. This critical analysis examined a range of reality television programs to reveal values, narratives and myths within the texts and also revealed prevalent ideologies by interpreting the ideological, narrative and mythic structures, which are a part of the television production process. Although many instances are revealed to demonstrate the viability and power of reality television as reflective of dominant positions within society, reality television narratives themselves are not judged to be completely unique as a cultural agent. The study concludes reality television, through elements embedded in the narratives of these programs, depicts preferred positions of the dominant ideology, as well as cultural values and myths, and analysis of the medium of television helps members of society understand how reality television content embodies modern culture. Further, this study found reality television programming to be representative of the dominant ideology, and through realistic depictions of culture and society, reality television was found to be a viable and powerful genre within television programming.