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Title:Who is popular in popular culture? A qualitative study about children, television, and race in Argentina
Author(s):Pomata, Veronica L.
Director of Research:Molina-Guzmán, Isabel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Molina-Guzmán, Isabel
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Denzin, Norman; Haas Dyson, Anne; Valdivia, Angharad
Department / Program:Advertising
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
popular culture
Abstract:The following is a theoretical, qualitative study on children’s interpretations of representations of race in television based on my role as participant observant. Specifically, in this analysis I explore children’s perspectives on the lack of heterogeneity in television programs in Argentina as of today, as well as the possible consequences that this homogeneity brings as a result. When looking at how children interact with popular culture, it is my argument that the normative power of these representations –while very much present in the children’s accounts of who belongs in television and why– is actively challenged when the narrative turns from “them” (other children) to “me”. At the same time that I study the interaction between children, popular culture, and race, I am very much aware of how children’s lives can never be fully divorced from the inevitable relations they share with adults. In this dissertation, thus, the power dynamics between children and the different adults with which they interrelate are deeply investigated. Moreover, my own position as researcher and the resulting negotiations between both the children and the adults present in my study are as much a part of the focus of this dissertation as the topic of children’s perceptions regarding issues of racial hierarchies and dynamics. This study is based on a regular series of observations conducted during the course of four months in an elementary school in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from April to July of 2009. These observations are complemented by two workshops carried out with the class during two different mornings, as well as by several different visual materials in the form of magazines, online pictures, and text as graphic. These visual aids are all supportive of my claim of a general disregard for racial diversity in television in Argentina, especially –and, most importantly– in locally produced content. The high rate of success of locally produced shows, even when competing with equally successful imported programs, speaks of the importance of analyzing the local content in all its complexity. The biggest contribution this work makes is twofold. First, it explores how children’s constructions of a narrative regarding who is allowed to have a role in television and why are very much tied in with the normative racial discourses that these shows are perpetuating. However, when the focus to the question of who could participate in television shifts from “others” to “me”, this study unmasks and brings to the forefront a change in perceptions that points towards a series of tensions very much embedded in the specific ways in which children re-interpret popular culture representations.
Issue Date:2020-05-04
Rights Information:© 2020 Verónica L. Pomata. All rights reserved.
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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