Macquarie University
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Children, television and fun: an exploration of the ways in which children enjoy television and of how the dominant public and media discourses curtail our understanding and appreciation of the value of this entertainment to children

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posted on 2022-03-28, 23:27 authored by Emily Booker
In this thesis, I explore the role of pleasure in children’s consumption of televisual content and seek to discover what it means to them and how it potentially enhances their lives in ways that are not contended with in the dominant discourses. examine what they say in their own words about what they enjoy watching on television and how they interpret and engage with the programs that they choose to view. The purpose of the study is to find out how and what children enjoy about television programs and how they talk about and engage with their favourite shows in their imaginative and social lives. This investigation is set within the context of public and media discourses that focus largely on the negative ‘effects’ of television on children. I examine how these dominant discourses have developed historically and how they affect the ways that children’s pleasure in television is criticised and policed. The dominant media and public discourses on children and television rarely, if ever, include the comments or views of children themselves. In response to this absence, my research includes interviews with children. I use a mixed method approach using quantitative and qualitative research to elicit the views of children aged 7- 10 years. This research builds on a well-established academic tradition and draws on the insights of theorists and researchers working within this tradition, particularly in the disciplines of sociology and cultural studies. My thesis seeks to further this research by investigating an area – children’s pleasure in television and the fun they get out of it – which is acknowledged in the field as being under-researched. In this regard I take my lead also from the children in my research: for them the pleasure of television comes from the fun and excitement it provides. Television programs, viewed across a wide variety of technological platforms, are a major part of life for children in the 21st century and in this thesis I am seeking to understand further the ways in which they engage with, enjoy – and value - this entertainment in their lives.


Table of Contents

Abstract -- Candidate's statement -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Chapter 1. Television terrors: psychopaths, coach potatoes and panics -- Chapter 2. Methods and approaches -- Chapter 3. Innocence or ignorance? how we safeguard in our own interest. -- Chapter 4. Entertainment, fun and the influence of the negative public discourse -- Chapter 5. The funnest thing in the world' : what children enjoy about television -- Chapter 6. Sharing pleasure, humour and the feel of utopia -- Conclusion - Bibliography -- Appendices -- Stories -- Drawings


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 257-266

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts , Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award



Copyright Emily Booker 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (273 pages) colour illustrations

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