“Don't treat us like we're so stupid and naive”: Toward an ethnography of soap opera viewers

Ellen Elizabeth Seiter, Hans Borchers, Gabriele Kreutzner, Eva-Maria Warth

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


During the summer of 1986, the Tubingen Soap Opera Project team conducted twenty-six ethnographic interviews with viewers in western Oregon. The first part of this paper places our study within the context of recent ethnographic work on particular social audiences of popular texts and describes our research design. The second part gives a preliminary report of our analyses and is divided into three sections: 1) soap operas in the context of everyday life for women working in the home; 2) how viewers construct the soap opera as a text; and 3) a feminist approach to the issue of gender and genre. Finally, we take a discursive approach to the interviews conducted by Kreutzner, Warth, and Seiter in all-female groups in our postscript on gendered discourse.
[abstract from publisher site]

Another point of departure from Nationwide lies in Morley 's reformulation of the notion of decoding, which is no longer conceived of as a single act of reading, but also as “a set of processes-of attentiveness, recognition of relevance, of comprehension, and of interpretation and response.:” This conceptual shift is closely related to a stronger emphasis on respondents' actual interlocutions as primary “data” rather than, as in Nationwide, dealing only with the substance of the viewers' responses. Morley suggests that specific meaning constructions can only be accounted for by close attention to the linguistic form in which they are expressed. In conclusion, Morley proposes an “ethnography of reading” which would account for the cultural rules organizing individual diversities of a basically social phenomenon'.
[abstract from author]
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRemote Control
Subtitle of host publicationTelevision, Audiences, and Cultural Power
EditorsEllen Seiter, Hans Borchers, Gabriele Kreutzner, Eva-Maria Warth
Place of PublicationLondon; New York
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780203768976, 9781135036904
ISBN (Print)9780415839525, 9781138985100, 0415065054
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2013

Publication series

NameRoutledge Library Editions: Television

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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