Defining the (In)appropriate : Scandinavian debates about the role of media in children's lives, 1950-1985
Title: Defining the (In)appropriate : Scandinavian debates about the role of media in children's lives, 1950-1985
Author: JENSEN, Helle Strandgaard
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2013
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This thesis investigates public debates about the role of media in children’s lives in Scandinavia from the mid-nineteen fifties to the early eighties. The thesis breaks with the theoretical approaches 'moral panic’ and 'media panic’ which have previously dominated analyses of debates about children and media in the past, in the fields of Media and Childhood Studies. It shows how the epistemological basis of these approaches have alienated the historical agents and their arguments leading to teleological and reductionist narratives. The consequence has been the loss of history as a complex and multifaceted backdrop in today’s discussions about children’s relationship with media. This historiographical point is followed up by constructing an alternative theoretical and methodological framework for an analysis of the debates about children and media in the past, drawing upon inspiration from new theories about media in transition, new cultural history and consumption studies. The analyses carried out in the thesis’ Parts I-III compare different opinions about children’s media consumption on a synchronic as well as a diachronic level. The three periods: the mid-fifties, late sixties/early seventies and early eighties work as core-periods for this comparison. A total of 3361 articles systematically collated from these periods’ newspapers and periodicals make up the main source base. On the synchronic level, the thesis demonstrates how different views of children, childhood and media have existed side by side, and that large parts of debates about children’s media consumption have involved arguments about not only one, but numerous media at the time. Via the diachronic comparison it is shown how continuity and break in definitions of (in)appropriate media for children have depended on, in particular, the professional background of the debaters, socio-cultural processes in Scandinavia and influences from international trends. Finally, the thesis shows how the past debates about media and children must be understood as concrete and important arenas for the discussion of the future society, especially because the experiences which the different media are believed to convey, have been perceived as important in children’s character formation.
LC Subject Heading: Mass media and children -- Scandinavia; Children -- Books and reading -- Scandinavia; Children -- Social conditions – Scandinavia; Mass media -- Social aspects -- Scandinavia
Examining Board: Professor Giulia Calvi, European University Institute (Supervisor) Professor Maria Sundkvist, Linköping University (External Supervisor) Professor David Buckingham, Loughborough University Professor Laura Lee Downs, European University Institute.; Defence date: 12 April 2013
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