How do British teenagers aged 16-18 receive and interpret alcohol messages portrayed in the British soap opera EastEnders?

Bhebhe, A., 2021. How do British teenagers aged 16-18 receive and interpret alcohol messages portrayed in the British soap opera EastEnders? PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Reception of media texts by audiences continues to occupy a fundamental position in the field of media studies, particularly in the face of the technological advances characterising the contemporary television viewing environment. Through a qualitative approach, this study investigates the reception of health communication messages, in the form of harmful drinking storylines portrayed in the British soap opera EastEnders, by sixteen to eighteen-year olds, in a multi-media reception environment. This is in the context of the socio-economic and health burden imposed on the British society by harmful drinking particularly by this age-group.

The study takes a broad approach to reception and as such investigates the main moments of the circuit of culture for a holistic understanding of meaning-making processes by young people. To this end focus group interviews and long interviews were used to obtain views of young people and health experts while EastEnders producer and health organisations involved in the creation of alcohol storylines were also interviewed. Findings revealed that popular television in general, and the soap opera genre in particular, are predominantly viewed by both young people and health experts as effective channels to convey health communication for this age-group, while realism and the accuracy of portrayals were seen as paramount in aiding dominant readings.

Contrary to some public discourses and early media theories, findings showed that young people are active and analytical readers of media messages in general and alcohol messages in particular and not passive recipients. Furthermore, second screens (laptops, smart phones and tablets) used during EastEnders viewing enhanced their reception, understanding and interpretation of alcohol messages and viewing experience altogether. Notwithstanding the pedagogical value of EastEnders, the study unearthed a potential contradiction between soap opera generic conventions and narrative demands, which could possibly impact on its ability to effectively convey health communication messages in general and those concerning harmful drinking in particular.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Bhebhe, A.
Date: February 2021
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author, Adilaid Bhebhe. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed in the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 24 Feb 2021 09:49
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:06

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