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På nära håll är ingen normal: handikappdiskurser i Sveriges Television 1956 – 2000
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2002 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Even though the goals of Swedish disability-politics are equality, full participation and autonomy, people with disabilities almost every day encounter discrimination and oppression. This thesis deals with the question of the public service-medias role in this discrepancy between political rhetoric and practices. The study of mass media’s role is interesting considering its cultural impact and the importance of cultural values in all kinds of communication situations. The focus of the study is on Swedish public service-television and the aim is to investigate the role of SVT in the implementation of the political goals of disability-politics. To what extent do SVT promote these goals and to what extent do they counteract them? The study’s ambition is both descriptive and analytical. Theoretically the study takes as its point of departure a social constructionist perspective. The only reality we thus can get in contact with is one that, via our language, has passed through our former knowledge and experiences. Language is therefore the main object of study. Another theoretical point of departure is a normative view on the role of mass media in society. This approach is characterized by the assumption that mass media has a certain usefulness for society as a whole, which in itself is a central purpose for public service-media.

The study is based on data consisting of programme descriptions and video copies of programmes from the start of SVT in 1956 until 2 000. Altogether it represents more than

2 000 TV-programmes and over 40 000 broadcasting hours. Furthermore, the data consist of official political documents regarding media and disability matters. The data are approached from a discourse-analytical perspective and investigated in three studies. One of the data clusters was used to carry out a quantitative outline of SVT’s representations of disability. Another was used in an analysis of the socio-historical context and its changes over time and yet another was an analysis of the contents and narratives of the programmes.

The main conclusions are that disabled persons and programmes that deals with disability issues are, and has been, rare in SVT, not more than 1-2 hours per 1 000 broadcast hours. The amount is the same today as it was in 1956. Another conclusion is that even though it seems like SVT is trying to promote the goals of disability-politics the consequences appears to be that SVT instead counteract them. One reason might be that the dominating representation in SVT has been of disability and disabled persons as normal. But because of journalistic practices, the outcome becomes portrays of deviance and The Other. This solution, however, is too simplistic. There is also a problem with the political rhetoric. As long as political goals, formulated in terms of ideals, which by definition are impossible to achieve, there will always be a discrepancy between political rhetoric and practices. The final conclusion therefore, is that reflections need to be done and consciousness needs to be raised in order to discover the discrepancy and from that point, try to create a change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kultur och medier , 2002. , 191 p.
Keyword [en]
Disabled, Disability, Media, Television, Public Service, Normal, Normality, Deviance, Otherness, Social Constructionism
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-3ISBN: 91-7305-187-XOAI: diva2:142993
Public defence
2002-02-15, 00:00
Available from: 2002-02-15 Created: 2002-02-15 Last updated: 2012-10-09Bibliographically approved

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