Texting the Subject: Women, Television, and Modern Self-Reflexivity

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Feminist audience research has often argued that the pleasures women find in watching certain popular television genres derive from their indulgence in “referential viewing”: relating their own subjective experience to television texts. But it has never been spelled out what this actually entails. This article, based upon research with women viewers of talk shows and morning magazine programs, suggests a specific methodology, “text in action,” to capture the specificities of the text/subject relationship. Findings arising from the use of this method suggest that accounts of the negotiation of subjectivity are induced through the text/subject interplay. Established explanations of “referential viewing” arrived at through traditional reception studies do not entirely account for the dialogic nature of these encounters. This article suggests that they can be more accurately explored through contemporary arguments about modern self-reflexivity where subjectivity can be seen to be discursively accomplished through pragmatic actions across the broadcast encounter.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10714420590947692

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, University of Manchester

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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