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Power to the People? The myth of television consumer sovereignty revisited

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This article attempts to nuance the argument of consumer sovereignty put forward by both liberal thinkers and cultural studies. Although recognising the importance (hence existence) of consumer sovereignty, the article goes against the stream of cultural audience studies and liberal accounts that have studied the benefits, pleasure and empowerment associated with watching TV. Instead it focuses on the other side of TV experience, the losses, displeasures and disempowerment of TV viewers. Through a deconstruction of audience agency, the public's power, freedom of choice and consumption as pleasure four notions on which the myth of consumer sovereignty is based this article wishes to challenge the myth of TV consumer sovereignty from both a theoretical and empirical standpoint.

Keywords: consumerism; critical audience studies; television consumption; viewer rights

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Free University of Brussels.

Publication date: 2007-06-07

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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