Sociologies of Reality TV (this event has been postponed)
Reality TV has, in the past three decades, moved from the margins of popular culture to its core. The success of television shows, such as Love Island and others, has prompted discussions concerning mental health and suicide, forms of coercive control and representations of marginalised groups in popular culture. Whilst existing sociological analyses of reality TV offer important contributions to discussions of identity construction, governmentality and performance and agency, such work remains largely piecemeal and disconnected. The potential therefore remains for interdisciplinary debates to push explorations of reality TV further and to reveal insights into the role of this cultural artefact as a site for exploration of identity, voice, performance, mediated social relations and consumption. Doing so offers the potential to contribute to long-standing sociological themes as well as exploring new directions in sociology and beyond.
We are keen to explore the wide breadth of sociological and other themes potentially arising from analyses of reality TV. By way of example, we encourage contributions for papers which address the questions below, but other areas of interest are also welcome:
- How do the dynamics of social structures intersect with and shape the appeal of othering processes evident in reality TV?
- What are the impacts of the over-representation of some individuals on identity making and performance (particularly the focus on certain body-types, races, age groups and sexual orientations)?
- To what extent is the persistent under-representations of some individuals a reflection of societal inequalities and social divisions (and what are the implications arising from this)?
- How can reality TV play an empowering role in its representations of marginalised members of society, or does derision persist?
- How might new sociologies and methodologies including feminist, queer or post-colonial perspectives facilitate new understandings of reality TV’s impact as a cultural object?
- What are the methodological implications of researching reality TV, particularly navigating ethical challenges?
Presentations are likely to be as part of themed panels, with approximately 20 minutes per paper. The symposium is deliberately designed around interactive/debate-centred sessions with opportunity for audience interaction. The following speakers have confirmed their participation in the event:
- Professor Ruth Holliday (University of Leeds)
- Professor Helen Wood (Lancaster University)
- Dr Kim Allen (University of Leeds)
- Dr Jilly Kay (University of Leicester)