A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?
Reality television makes a false promise to present reality to its audiences. However this medium has the power to educate its audiences on how to think and behave. Considering this potential, this project used Berger and Luckmann’s (1967) Social Construction of Reality to help assess the potential meaning and power of the images of Black women in reality television docusoaps. According to social constructionists, individuals use information from social institutions (such as mass media) to help them construct their ideas about the real world. Although media images are not the only source of information for viewers, they are used in connection with other sources (Baran & Davis, 2009; Berger & Luckmann, 1967).
Researchers have also used the Social Construction of Reality to help illustrate how reality television constructs ideas about topics such as fatherhood (Smith, 2008) and female relationships (Chittenden, 2011). This theory was used in this project to help determine what images of Black women were constructed in reality television docusoaps and the way in which this constructed reality could impact audiences’ construction of reality. While analyzing these images, research on images of Black women was also analyzed to see if stereotypical images continued to exist in docusoaps. The way in which each group ← 119 | 120 → was constructed and presented was compared to determine if Black women were presented more favorably depending on the racial make-up of the cast.
According to Berger and Luckmann (1967), individuals construct reality through their interaction and communication...
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