Unconscious Class Awareness? The reception of class dimensions in Three Loves, Falcon Crest and TV news

Sven Ross


Television depicts people from different social classes, with middle class characters often dominating. How do television viewers receive this? This article discusses the reception of social class dimensions while watching television, drawing on a reception analysis conducted in Sweden in the early 1990s. The aim was to analyze if and how Swedish television viewers perceive the social class position of characters and persons in different kinds of television fiction and news. Both qualitative reception interviews and a questionnaire were used. One main conclusion was that informants usually can give some classification of social position when asked about it but this was mostly not something that they reflected upon while watching. It is argued that this result can be understood as an outcome of both cognitive processes and class embarrassment. However, attention for social position was somewhat higher when watching fiction and lower when watching news.


Social class, television, reception, ideology, cognition

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS512011449