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Title:So you've been on a show: The life-cycle and labor of reality television contestants
Author(s):Ruehlicke, Andrea
Director of Research:Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ciafone, Amanda; Molina-Guzmán, Isabel; Stole, Inger Lisbeth
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Reality Television, Canada, Contestants, Labor, Format Television
Abstract:This dissertation considers what I am calling the “life-cycle” of reality television participation. Individuals audition and participate in filming, processes which turn them into characters. These individuals then return home having become known individuals, if only to a niche audience. They then must navigate their own relationship to the program and determine how best to pursue their career and personal goals. Relationships with friends, family and employers may change due to participation. The impacts of appearing on a reality show last far beyond the filming period. I am considering the labor that contestants put into applying and appearing on the show, and the effects that participation has on their own self-image and future career and life plans. This project contextualizes format television in Canada and considers the linkages between the labor required of reality contestants and that expected in other industries. The expectations placed on reality contestants can be seen as exaggerated versions of the labor expected of all workers in the current economy. Reality television contestants have often been viewed as being exploited by the programs they appear on. This project nuances that understanding by considering how individuals make sense of their own participation. The findings are based on 49 interviews with contestants on Canadian skill and talent based reality competition programs. These interviews occurred over the phone, by video chat, and through written correspondence. The majority of respondents did not win the program they took part in. Yet, the majority of individuals mentioned that they would take part again if given the opportunity. The potential benefits of participation are not limited to winning the title and prize.
Issue Date:2019-04-01
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/104769
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Andrea Ruehlicke
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-08-23
Date Deposited:2019-05


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