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The “Ordinary” on Commercial Radio and TV: A Reception Analysis of the Subject Position of Ordinary People in the Participatory Programs Recht van Antwoord and Zwart of Wit

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In this article, the authors examine the articulation of the subject position ordinary people by analyzing focus group discussions on 2 North Belgian commercial (semi-) participatory programs: the radio talk show “Black or White” (Zwart of Wit) and the TV audience discussion program “Right of Answer” (Recht van Antwoord). The authors' main objectives are to develop a theoretical framework that does justice to the fluidity of the subject position “ordinary people” and to show how the relationist nature of its construction works within the reception of 2 specific talk shows. For this reason, the authors first discuss different theoretical models that deal with the everyday and the ordinary. Then, through the reception study, they identify 2 relationist discourses that articulate the complex and multilayered subject position of ordinary people. The subject position of ordinary people is first defined through a negative relation with societal elites. Second, the authors use a lower class-based definition (creating a negative relation with the middle and upper classes). They conclude by arguing that these 2 relationist discourses are structural limitations for the participatory process, transforming the ordinary into ordinariness.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Communication Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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