The television family: A content analysis of the portrayal of family life in prime time television


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Content type
Research report

December 1983

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This study looks at the way in which families and family were portrayed on Australian prime time television during a week in September 1982. It seeks to uncover the 'messages' that are being transmitted by television about family life and family relationships. The study forms part of an international project on 'Television and the family' with similar analyses being conducted in Hungary, Denmark and the United Kingdom and coordinated by the Centre for Mass Communication Research, University of Leicester. The television portrayal of the world is compared with the official statistics of the Australian population and family to highlight the degree to which messages about the world become distorted in the mediated world of television. The analysis of family life centred on some key areas of interest - marriage, generational relationships, sexuality, ageing, autonomy and public life, and work and leisure. This aspect of the analysis indicates the overall 'unreality' of much television fare. The report is divided into the analysis of the various types of programs shown - fictional, fiction family and non-fictional programs, with a brief look at advertisements and community service announcements.