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Children, Television and the Environment

Gauntlett, David John (1996) Children, Television and the Environment. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.


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This thesis seeks to explore the impact of the increased coverage of environmental issues on television since the late 1980s, on children’s awareness and concern about the environment. The rise of environmental concern and related media coverage is charted, and then research regarding the effects of mass media on behaviour is discussed. Frequent methodological flaws and oversimplistic approaches are seen to limit these studies. The theoretical approaches of Adorno, Gramsci, and others are then discussed in some detail in an attempt to renegotiate critical theory and cultural studies for the purposes of the thesis. Paradigms of research on children and the media are discussed. It is argued that research, particularly in psychology, has traditionally disenfranchised young people and not recognised their capacities. Previous research on environmental issues and media audiences is then considered, and interviews with the producers of three key British environmental TV programmes are discussed. It is found that programmes tend to focus on individuals, rather than social structures, as both the causes and potential solutions to environmental problems. The new research method developed for this study is introduced, and its methodological foundations are discussed. Children aged 7-11 were invited to make their own videos about the environment. (Total of 53 children, from seven Leeds schools, worked in small groups). Observation of this process, and the videos produced, formed the research data. Findings showed that the children were impressively media literate. Most children had environmental concerns, but these were not necessarily as indicated in preliminary interviews. Concerns were generally local and associated with individuals. It is argued that the children’s environmental concern was not a product of simple media ‘effects’, but that their understanding of the issues had been subject to ‘hegemonic bending’ by programmes which had emphasised individualistic rather than social accounts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (Leeds) > Institute of Communication Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Digitisation Studio Leeds
Date Deposited: 01 May 2012 09:17
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2299

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