Most Watched: Family representations in high-rating programmes on German television

  • Germany has faced low birth rates since the 1970s. No policies have changed this trend as yet. This study focuses on the role of TV as a socialising agent contributing to viewers' attitudes and beliefs that ultimately result in having no or few children. This study, which is situated within the agenda-setting theory, social cognitive theory as well as cultivation theory is descriptive in kind. The material under analysis consists, first, of 50 highest-rating programmes as watched by 14 to 49 year-olds during an average week, considered to reflect preferences of viewers of potentially child-bearing age, and, second, the ten most watched programmes shown during a week focusing on the representation of families ("Children are the Future"). The results are related to one another with the aim of obtaining a coincidental picture from the first subset, and an intentionally constructed one from the second. The most striking finding is how little family life is shown. Where it is shown, the representations often lack detail preventing an in-depth analysis. Where recognisable, well-off two-parent families with one or two children older than six years predominate. Traditional models for the division of labour and unchanged gender roles feature. Inner-familial discourse about combining work and family issues is scarce and completely absent in the families' surroundings. Financial aids for families or external child care are virtually not shown nor discussed. Results indicate few significant differences between the two programme subsets. The description of family representations in high-rating programmes is considered an important step towards an understanding of the kind of mediated picture television viewers experience. The results of the present study seek to stimulate interest in the field of cultivaton analysis, e.g. to explore effects of televised patterns on viewers' attitudes towards family life in general or, more specifically, on their wish to have children.

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Publishing Institution:IRC-Library, Information Resource Center der Jacobs University Bremen
Granting Institution:Jacobs Univ.
Author:Katrin Viertel
Referee:Petra Lietz, Margrit Schreier, Nicole Krämer
Advisor:Petra Lietz
Persistent Identifier (URN):urn:nbn:de:101:1-201307119428
Document Type:PhD Thesis
Date of Successful Oral Defense:2013/04/05
Date of First Publication:2013/04/22
PhD Degree:Communication Science
School:SHSS School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Library of Congress Classification:P Language and Literature / PN Literature (General) / PN1600-3307 Drama / PN1990-1992.92 Broadcasting / PN1992-1992.92 Television broadcasts
Call No:Thesis 2013/5

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