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Performing emotions: A case study on audience reception of the German docusoap Bauer sucht Frau
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2012 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this study is to approach the understanding of viewing of reality television with the intention to explore emotional responses in the reception since emotions are crucial part in the emotionalized television genre of reality television. The German adaption of the format The Farmer Wants a Wife was chosen for this case study to examine tendencies of portraying contestants in unpleasant situations. Humiliation, embarrassment or discrediting the contestants creates a balancing act between fun and ridicule. The protagonists are located between the status of (temporary) cult figures and/or figures of fun.

The thesis’ main aim is to find out which emotions are perceived and addressed in the watching experience of the format being named in the context of ‘fremdschämen’. The winged German word for vicarious or empathic embarrassment was thereby addressed beyond its descriptive metaphor for current programs. Emotional responses in connection with shame and embarrassment were previously predominantly neglected in research on reality television. Its relevance and occurrence in media is insofar important, as the concept of ‘fremdschämen’ found the way into German mainstream language use.

The thesis delivers qualitative approaches to capture the mediation of emotions in reality TV: In a narrative analysis, the question on how emotions actually are staged was approached. Subsequently, four focus group discussions with overall 18 German-speaking discussants were conducted to understand individual and social watching preferences, emotional involvement, attachment styles and positioning in the reception.

The study’s findings suggest that the contestants’ ordinariness is challenged by mainly focusing on extraordinarity in the docusoap. Thereby, new opportunities of audience positioning, identification and anti-identification and constructions of appealing figures are encouraged. Gentle mockery in the style of presentation contains furthermore self-criticism of the genre and expresses a critical stance of viewing. Emotions are performed on different levels to increase entertaining values in the program. Especially embarrassment can be connected to its function of ridicule and the maintenance of social order.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 56 p.
Keyword [en]
reality television, docusoap, audience reception, emotions, Farmer wants a wife, vicarious embarrassment
Keyword [de]
reality television, docusoap, Rezeptionsforschung, Gefühle, Bauer sucht Frau, Fremdschämen
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-77301OAI: diva2:531247
Humanities, Theology
Available from: 2012-06-28 Created: 2012-06-06 Last updated: 2012-06-28Bibliographically approved

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