Making sense of 7de laan : selected viewers' interpretations of an Afrikaans soap opera

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr. Michele Tager en_US
dc.contributor.author Van der Merwe, Nadia
dc.date.accessioned 2012-03-08T07:32:27Z
dc.date.available 2012-03-08T07:32:27Z
dc.date.issued 2012-03-08
dc.date.submitted 2011
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4517
dc.description D.Litt. et Phil. en_US
dc.description.abstract The aim of the research was to understand and reveal how selected cross-cultural viewers of the South African soap opera, 7de laan, interpret the programme and to what extent it forms a part of their daily lived experiences. Framed within audience reception ethnography – with a view both to interrogating the moment of reception and the cultural and social contexts of reception – in-depth interviews were used as primary data-gathering method. Although this was essentially an audience study, a close reading of 7de laan, which included other scholars’ readings of the text, was done prior to conducting the interviews. In all, 44 in-depth interviews were conducted with both Afrikaans and non-Afrikaans viewers. Informants were recruited from the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas and lived in a range of low- to high-income suburbs. Many different language groups were represented in the sample: English, Afrikaans, Setswana, Tshivenda, isiZulu, Xitsonga and Sesotho. A number of popular models exists for thinking about the audience/text relationship. In the final analysis the concept of viewer investment – the ways in which audiences are conserned about the historical and socially situated ideals for viewing pleasure (Barker & Brooks, 1998:225) – best explains the audience-text relationship for this sample of 7de laan viewers. This research has identified three types of viewers based on their viewing frequency: • Regular viewers: those who watch three to five times a week. • Less frequent viewers: those who watch one to three times a week. • Infrequent viewers: those who prefer to watch the omnibus, but do not do so regularly. Regular viewers – those who watch three to five times a week – can further be divided into three groups based on viewer investment, namely loyal, ironic and habitual viewers. Loyals are more inclined to accept the conventions prevalent in 7de laan, for example the ample use of humour and the absence of bedroom scenes, and their approach to sense making is generally less critical. In instances where the text deviates from a convention, these viewers tend to find mechanisms that help them to accept such deviations. Indications are that these viewers’ main concern is with the integrity of the fictional world. Whereas they employ mechanisms to deal with discrepancies between reality and the soap world, they find it considerably more difficult to accept instances where they perceive the fictional integrity to be compromised. ‘Ironic viewers’ watch regularly and are knowledgeable about 7de laan’s conventions. However, they tend to question these and, as a result, struggle to explain and/or accept that they are in fact 7de laan viewers. Their approach to sense making was one of criticising, questioning and reflecting. Whereas loyals celebrate conventions, such as the use of humour in 7de laan, ironics reject them. Some ironics welcome deviations from known 7de laan conventions. ‘Habitual viewers’ claim that they do not make special arrangements to watch 7de laan. However, it has become part of their weekly routine. These viewers’ approach to sense making ranged from acceptance to criticism. ‘Sentimental viewers’ – those who watch one to three times a week – would like to stop watching but the programme has become intertwined with their personal history. They tend to watch less frequently because they are trying to move on – often to other soaps. For this very reason, less frequent viewers among the informants tended generally to be critical of the text. When discussing the text, these informants adopted a tone of superiority. This was also the case with many ironics. ‘Infrequent viewers’ – those who prefer to watch the omnibus, but do not do so regularly – are mostly non- Afrikaans informants who do not make a concerted effort to watch 7de laan during the week. They often tune in to the omnibus on Sundays. Watching 7de laan is not a priority – they tend to stumble upon it when there are a limited number of alternatives on the viewing schedule. They are soap watchers, but 7de laan is not their favourite. Indications are that these viewers mostly read the text in the referential mode. They consistently pick out instances that reflect their own world. Apart from viewer investment, other factors were also found to influence sense making. These included: the South African broadcasting context; the informants’ viewing history and motives for viewing; the social context of viewing and associated soap talk; multiple soap viewing and related media coverage, the broader sociocultural and socio-political context, informants’ personal life-world, and informants’ knowledge of the genre and specific serial conventions. In a few cases informants’ also referred to soap production related knowledge and the producers’ and broadcasters’ perceived intent when informants were trying to make sense of the text. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Television soap operas en_US
dc.title Making sense of 7de laan : selected viewers' interpretations of an Afrikaans soap opera en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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