Graduate Student Work (Sociology)

Search results

Now showing 1 - 2 of 2
  • Publication
    Dealing With Reality: Market Demands, Artistic Integrity, and Identity Work in Reality Television Production
    (2012-10-01) Wei, Junhow
    Cultural industry workers at times compromise the values and tastes that are important parts of their artistic identities to accommodate commercial demands. I argue that workers resolve frustrations that arise from such compromises through identity work, individuals’ active construction of their identities in social contexts. Using ethnographic data from fieldwork at a reality television production company, I describe two identity work strategies, distancing and evaluative tweaking, that workers use to maintain their artistic integrity despite producing work that does not meet their standards of quality. The manner through which these strategies emerged during micro social interaction differed between managers and non-managers. Managers used distancing and evaluative tweaking to simultaneously do identity work and regulate their employees’ identities when justifying decisions that threatened shared values and tastes. On the other hand, employees distanced themselves from managers while venting to colleagues about managers’ decisions that conflicted with their idiosyncratic values and tastes. These dynamics are illustrated through a setting that has received insufficient ethnographic attention, reality television production. Some reality television workers prefer to portray “real” and “authentic” situations. These workers employ identity work strategies to maintain artistic integrity when distorting reality to create the drama and conflict they consider marketable.
  • Publication
    Mass Media and the Localization of Emotional Display: The Case of China’s Next Top Model
    (2014-06-01) Wei, Junhow
    Few studies have explored the relationship between globalization and emotional expression. One prominent means through which physical forms of emotional display circulate globally is through the mass media, and specifically through the reality television format trade. Whether local people can successfully perform globally circulating forms of emotional display depends, in part, on how local audiences receive their performances. Globally circulating forms might convey meanings that conflict with local public values or media regulators’ ideologies. Audience approval is facilitated through textual framing strategies that reflect producers’ directorial and editorial choices. I describe three strategies that frame emotional displays in ways that align their meanings with local ideologies and cultural values: (1) define what caused the feelings that led to the emotional display as culturally appropriate, (2) portray the emotional display as not reflecting the performers’ true feelings, and (3) ensure that the performers’ feelings are resolved within the show’s narrative in an appropriate manner. Framing strategies are mechanisms through which global formats and local culture jointly shape mass mediated emotional performances.