Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Bringing up baby: representations of lone motherhood in modern popular culture

Teckman, J. (2004) Bringing up baby: representations of lone motherhood in modern popular culture. Doctoral thesis. University of Leicester.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Abstract: This thesis explores media representations of single mothers, and considers how one segment of the audience interprets the messages and ideologies embedded within texts, in relation to their own experiences and perceptions. It combines textual analysis of selected texts from popular television and film with empirical data collected during seminars conducted with groups of teenage, female college students and young single mothers. The texts studied were chosen from television soap opera and situation comedy (both of which deal mainly with family relationships and family situations) and popular, modern Hollywood films; three areas I considered to be central in helping me to gain an understanding of how the media construct meanings and messages for audiences in a form and style designed for repetition and unambiguity, to create easy understanding for audiences, even when they are actually complex and contradictory. The research groups were made up of young women aged between 16 and 20, from a variety of social and ethnic backgrounds. The fieldwork was conducted over a period of several weeks over the five year research period, and used with the case-study texts from contemporary popular culture. The data collected suggests that, beneath the increasingly diverse representations of single mothers in popular culture, media texts tend to define and represent single mothers generally as incomplete, lacking and/or deviant in comparison to ‘normal’ motherhood. However, the young audience members with whom I worked, used the parameters of their own experience and knowledge to simultaneously engage with and distance themselves from the seemingly entrenched ideologies embedded within the texts. As a result it seems that despite the essentially negative representations that continue to dominate media stereotypes of single mothers, young female viewers remain generally aware of and distanced from the messages being transmitted
Additional Information: This University of Northampton thesis was validated by the University of Leicester
Uncontrolled Keywords: Single mothers popular culture; television and women; soap operas, Great Britain, history and criticism; women in television; single mothers
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1992 Television broadcasts
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM1206 Mass media in society
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ755.7 Parents. Parenthood > HQ759 Motherhood
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
Creators: Teckman, Julie
Department: School of the Arts > Theses
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Arts, Science & Technology > Theses (Arts, Science & Technology)
Date: 2004
Date Type: Completion
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
Institution: University of Leicester

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