The representation of Irish travellers in British television documentaries

Judd, Ellie (2015) The representation of Irish travellers in British television documentaries. MA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Abstract

    A broad research study into the social tensions surrounding the discrimination of minority groups and how British television – particularly documentary - can be seen to reflect, and reposition itself, in response to these tensions. The primary aim of this dissertation is to map the field of representation of the Irish traveller culture which is presented to audiences through the use of television documentaries. In-depth textual analysis of Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (Popplewell, 2010), Thelma’s Gypsy Girls (2012, Channel 4) and When Paddy Met Sally (Coueslant, 2012), and Channel 5’s Gypsy Blood (Maguire, 2012), The Truth about Travellers (2013, Channel 5) and Traveller Feuds (Davids, 2013) allows for a further understanding of the stereotypes created within British television documentary. Social and political contexts and discourses of their representations are considered, determining that these documentaries are primarily made to exoticise the Irish traveller culture as well as present a form of poverty porn which exploits travellers social conditions in order to generate sympathy. Throughout this dissertation particular emphasis is placed on how Channel 4 and Channel 5 documentaries present issues of education, work, customs and marriage on-screen. Chapter one examines masculinity and how working class travelling men are seen as ‘wild men’ who are unable to control their temperaments, criminals who are unsatisfied unless they are participating in illegal sports, poorly educated and culprits of misogyny. Chapter two discusses how working class travelling women are presented as ‘doormat gypsys’, victims of the ‘male gaze’, poorly educated and over reproductive. The final chapter focuses on how the travelling youth culture are represented as working class ‘chavs’, ‘child brides’, naïve followers of traditional religions as well as how they are associated with poorly education and delinquency. Academic journal articles are particularly useful when considering the interaction between the viewer and the text, and the importance of ‘otherness’ when it comes to non-traveller viewers enjoyment. Newspaper articles also assist in showing what affect these documentaries have had on the views of travellers themselves, ultimately questioning the issue of authenticity. Conclusively, the study identifies Irish traveller’s inability to be seen as integrated members of society in British television documentary and the complex stereotyping of these people as marginalised others.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2017 09:57
    Last Modified: 09 Jan 2017 09:57
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/22741

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