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Meeting The Superhumans: Channel Four, Disability and the 2012 Paralympic Games

Jackson-Brown, Carolyn Elizabeth (2018) Meeting The Superhumans: Channel Four, Disability and the 2012 Paralympic Games. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Channel Four’s media coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games is said to have delivered a seismic shift in attitudes towards those with disabilities. But why and how was a marginalised group brought into the mainstream by the media? What were the influencing factors and who made the decisions? By interviewing key people involved in the television production process, and accessing some of their internal documentation, my doctoral research sheds light on how meanings about disability were constructed and delivered, from the top down and across the creative workflow. Drawing on elements of both cultural studies and political economy, this thesis investigates the complex and entangled production mechanisms asking why, how and what representations of disability were promoted by the decision-makers and communicated as their preferred meanings. Using Hall’s theory of constructivist encoding, influences on representation and meaning are analysed through the theoretical lenses of the critical political economy, disability theory and Goffman’s conceptualisations of stigma management. I also examine how sporting tropes and programme formats were used and adapted to reduce the stigma of ‘otherness’ and bring a marginalised group into the mainstream. Channel Four’s unique funding model, and risk-taking remit, are repeatedly under review and this project explores the relationship between the channel’s commercial, industrial and organisational contexts alongside individual agency and creative constraints. The study provides a systemic perspective, separating institutional influences and individual influences from the surrounding commercial environment, to map how each of these trigger adaptive changes in each other.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: The media coverage for the London 2012 Paralympic Games created a 'seismic shift' in perceptions of disability and reframed onscreen representations. This case-study draws on empirical data given by the key decision makers [who produced that coverage] between the dates of 2014-2016 and prior to the Rio coverage.
Keywords: representation production Paralympic Paralympian 2012 creativity commerce political-economy structure agency PSB television sports mega-event risk remit marketing disability supercrip C4TVC C4 IPC BBC brand TV Public Enemy hip-hop advertising 4Creative diversity marginalise minority meaning-making
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Media and Communication (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mrs Carolyn Jackson-Brown
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2018 12:53
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2018 12:53
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20953

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