MacKeogh (2001) 'Taking Account of The Macro in The
Micro-Politics of Family Viewing - Generational
Sociological Research Online, vol. 6, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/1/mackeogh.html>
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Received: 9/3/2001 Accepted: 29/5/2001 Published:
...relationship between the viewer and television, the reader and text, is often a relationship which has to be negotiated, struggled for, won or lost, in the dynamic and often chaotic processes of family life. (Gray, 1987: 40)
...interplay of culturally 'given' dispositions, interests and ways of proceeding, on the one hand, and, on the other, individual skills and social competencies, the constraints of resource limitations, the unintended consequences which intrude into any ongoing chain of transactions, personal idiosyncrasies and failings, and the weight of the history of relationships between the individuals concerned and the groups in which they claim membership. (Jenkins, 1992: 72)
The TV is switched on, but the volume is muted.
As The Late Late Show begins, my mother asks Matt to increase the volume.
At first he doesn't hear her because Jack is asking him and I quote 'Is it possible to hook up the stereo to the TV?'
My mother repeats her request this time a little louder.
She also says to no one in particular. 'Keep quiet now this is the only programme I watch in the week'
(1:108 Observation: The Late Late Show)
Again Tom responds 'That's David Norris'
Matt then remarks almost absent-mindedly 'He's gay isn't he'
Tom nods and Gran looks disapprovingly at the TV but says nothing.
(1:171 Observation: The Late Late Show)
My mother at one point comments 'You should finish up for tonight'
She is still looking at the TV as she speaks, so it is easy for me to mutter something about wanting to try and finish
as I hurriedly open one of the economic books on the table. (1:131 Observation: The Late Late Show)
Tom inquires about Jack's impressions of the show saying 'What do you think of The Late Late so far not great is it?'
Jack responds by saying 'Well, it's not my favourite programme anytime really, but if Gran is watching it, that's it'.
(1:218 Observation: The Late Late Show)
As they come back in Gran stands in the doorway with the coal bucket saying
'Jack, can you get me some coal for the fire please?'
He responds with a horrified look.
'Ah Gran, I can't. The first episode of Lois and Clark is starting in a second;
it's the new series where we find out if he tells her he's Superman.'
(1:279 Observation: Lois and Clarke)
(The exchange I have just witnessed between herself and the kids reminds me of my own teenage years with my mother.
It strikes me how mischievous she can be).
(1:309 Observation: Lois and Clarke)
At approximately 10.50 p.m. my mother returns home.
She is back earlier than expected and Matt and Jack look agitated as the front door closes.
Jack remarks 'Well, there goes the end of that programme'.
(1:563 Observation: The X Files )
'Well, that's a lovely greeting isn't it'
(1:580 Observation: The X Files )
She warns him not to make a mess saying 'Leave that kitchen as you find it Jack.'
It's not clear if he heard her, but if he did, he's studiously ignoring her, a pattern to which it seems they are both accustomed.
(1:155 Observation: The Late Late Show)
Matt 'Oh yeah, I taped it for her once, but I think she wiped it out in the process of trying to play it back.
Don't ask me how she did that! Gran's a bit clueless when it comes to the VCR.
Same as Mum really. Like Mother like daughter.
(Interview: Matt - 20 yrs)
Grandfather 'Are you sure it wasn't Sheridan?'
Mike 'No, Cascarino' quite annoyed
(9:213 : Mike - 16 yrs: Football Match)
My mother walks in at this stage.
My Mom starts to speak to Edel and Edel replies 'Mum, I can't talk now, Home and Away is on'.
Carl tells Mom 'You're in my way' and then 'sorry' because Mom gives him a glare.
(7:196: Edel -13 yrs.; Carl - 18 yrs.: Home and Away)
She sits and looks at the TV and asks if this is Star Trek.
I tell her it is.
Mam 'You like this programme don't you?'
She is looking at Dave.
Dave 'Yes, I do'
Mam 'How's the flat going?'
Dave is very irritated by the look of him.
His hands are over his eyes and he is leaning forward.
Mam gets up and pokes the fire and looks at me
I say 'I know, I'll do it' [fetch coal]
Mam 'Do it before dinner'
Mam leaves the room again and Dave looks around at me.
Dave 'Unbelievable isn't she'
'Pretty bad' [I say]
(14:272: Dave - 23 yrs.: Star Trek)
Jill moves around a bit.
Adam is still.
Mother comes in cleans up.
No reaction from the others
Dad comes in and sits down
(5:27 : Adam - 16 yrs.; Jill 20 yrs.: Home and Away)
Mother comments that it's not too late yet for Ireland to win.
Rick turns to me and says 'don't mind Mum, she knows nothing about football'.
He has a big grin while he says this.
(10:148: Rick - 16 yrs.: Football Match)
Interviewer 'Do you ever watch a video with your parents?'
Interviewer 'Not even the war ones?'
Saul '...we just..'
Interviewer 'Do you think that's unusual?'
Stephen 'They just keep butting in and asking the story'
Saul 'It's not that it's unusual, it's that they can't follow it, they never seem to get the story line and we keep having to explain it to them.'
Interviewer 'yeah, I know and they keep asking the same questions'
Saul 'And then, if someone gets shot or something Mum says...
Stephen ''Why did he get shot?''
Saul ''Oh that's too bad' or 'awful' or something. And you have to fast forward the porno scenes as well, although....
Interviewer 'How do you know when they're coming up though?'
Saul laughs 'You know the way it says P.G....yeah, well we have to check it out for Mum and Dad' Laughs
Stephen 'What?' Laughing
Saul 'C.G rather than P.G.'
[Child Guidance rather than Parental Guidance]
(Interview : Saul - 15 yrs.; Stephen 16 yrs)
insiders recognize as sufficiently inside to be true but not so
'inside' that they reveal only what is already known. (Glaser and Strauss, 1965: 9)
2 Fieldwork was conducted in Feb.-May 1995 and Oct.-Jan 1995- 1996.
3 All participants were subsequently informed of the observations and all agreed to follow up interviews.
4While it was not their home, the informant was adamant that it was a second home where they had slightly more room to maneuver because their father tended to dominate the television in their own home (either by watching it himself or carrying out noisy DIY work when not watching it). In other words, this case study did not take place 'at home', but was, nonetheless, in a place where the participants regularly viewed irrespective of the research
5The Late Late Show is a long running, Irish produced chat show.
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