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Representing Youth with Disability on Television

Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood

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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 5. A Methodology to the Madness

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← 68 | 69 →Chapter Five

A Methodology to the Madness

Television plays a major pedagogical role in our homes (Steinberg & Macedo, 2007). It is both contemplative and persuasive. Due to its impact on our lives, it is crucial to understand the messages it generates on a daily/nightly basis.

In 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that provides useful information on national health issues, tracked the amount of television consumed by 8- to 18-year-old children/teenagers. Rideout, Foeher, and Roberts, the authors of the study, noted that

8–18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time “media multitasking” (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours. The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today. And because of media multitasking, the total amount of media content consumed during that period has increased from 8:33 in 2004 to 10:45 today.

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