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Representing Youth with Disability on Television

Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood


Dana Hasson

Representing Youth with Disability on Television is a complex and multidimensional mainstream cultural discourse that examines specific stereotypes in fictional programming. The book draws attention to the group labeled as disabled, which is often marginalized, misrepresented, and misunderstood in the media, by analyzing the popular television programs Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood. To obtain a more rigorous account of the way that youth (9–18 years of age) with disability are framed on television, this analysis examines the following issues: how research on popular culture is contextualized within social theory; the theoretical perspectives on representations of disability in popular culture; and the various contexts, genres, media, representations, and definitions of youth with disability in popular culture. The text also outlines the historical growth of disability, which is crucial for a discussion regarding the changing dimensions of popular culture. Critical hermeneutics, content analysis, and methodological bricolage are the mélange of methodologies used to closely examine the dominant models of disability (social vs. medical) used in the portrayal of disabled youth on television today.
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Chapter 1. The Personal Is the Public: My Story


← x | 1 →Chapter One

The Personal Is the Public: My Story

Stereotype assumptions about people with impairments are based on superstition, myths and beliefs from earlier less enlightened times. They are inherent to our culture and persist partly because they are constantly reproduced through the communications media; books, films, television, newspapers and advertising. (Barnes, 1991, p. 45)

Who am I? How do I situate myself in my writing and what life experiences have brought me to this point in life? What effect do I want my work to have in my field and beyond? In Qualitative Inquiry, Butler-Kisber (2010) asks, “Who we are as researchers, our research identities, changes with time and experience, just as our everyday identities do” (p. 19). I believe that our experiences, especially early in life, mold us into the individuals we will become and give us a strong foundation for what will turn our passion into substance. Who I am affects my research, and I consider my positionality as I introduce this work.

Delving deeper into the reasons I have devoted so much time and energy to this field will become apparent as I weave together my past to make sense of my present. As a point of entry, I use the opening quote about stereotypes and myths about disability from Barnes (1991). ← 1 | 2 →I believe that this quote represents my burning desire to research a topic that falls under the radar so frequently, yet is...

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