Gender, feminism and talk on British television, 1970-1990
This thesis uncovers and analyses the relationship between forms of talk on British television between 1970-1990, and the uneven transformations in gender politics that occurred in this period, which encompasses both the second wave feminist movement and the rise of neoliberal politics. It presents five historical case studies of talk-based television programmes from across this time period: No Man’s Land (Associated Television/ITV, 1973), Good Afternoon! (Thames Television/ITV, 1971-1984), Pictures of Women: Sexuality (Channel 4, 1984), Watch the Woman (Channel 4, 1985), and Question Time (BBC One, 1979-present). These case studies offer a deliberate selection of television texts that differ according to their institutional contexts; their position in the schedules; their status in existing broadcasting histories; their discursive arrangements; and their modes of address. The thesis seeks to consider how the communicative ethos of television talk has been gendered in three key ways: at the level of production - in the sense of when, how, and why television spaces have been opened up for gendered forms of talk in relationship to wider shifts in gender politics; at the level of the text - in terms of how the discursive arrangements of talk-based programmes have worked to include, exclude, legitimise or disavow women’s voices; and at the level of critical reception - in the sense of how television talk has been evaluated in profoundly gendered terms. The thesis is methodologically innovative because it theorises gendered forms of television talk in relationship to histories of television production, as well as to broader political, cultural and gender histories. It carries out important empirical ‘recovery work’ of hidden women’s television histories through the presentation of original archival research. It also presents theoretical work, which re-evaluates the distinctive communicative ethos of television – or its “sociability” in light of feminist theories of language, gender and power. Moreover, it sheds some historical light on why the institutional parameters of television still delimit the available spaces for women's speech.
- PhD