University of Leicester
2023StrozzoS PhD.pdf (2.68 MB)

Comedic Sarcasm: Meaning Generation by Second Audience Teens

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posted on 2023-09-28, 15:39 authored by Samuel L. Strozzo

In an increasingly globalised media landscape, comedic sarcasm in media encodings faces decoding obstacles by a secondary audience in ways perhaps unintended by the original primary audience encoding. Drawing upon Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding paradigm of media and communications, this thesis adds to knowledge in cross-cultural media reception, specifically focusing on two British television texts as a medium of message dissemination to determine factors that interfere with decoding.

Using a qualitative approach drawing from Hall’s encoding and decoding paradigm of media and communication (1980), the study acknowledges a Gadamer-inspired hermeneutic data gathering approach (1960), alongside Gibbs’ social norm model of message understanding (1986) to offer insight into this subset of cross-cultural communications. Selected extracts from episodes of the BBC television series Blackadder and Waiting for God are employed in focus group settings with a specific secondary audience—adolescents in the Republic of Korea in an international school setting, chosen due to the limited data pertaining to the group. The literature review spans multiple fields including sociology, cognitive development, linguistics, and television/audience studies to inform possible encoding and decoding obstacles with a representative secondary audience, providing lenses through which to perform a narrative-style thematic analysis of findings.

The resulting interdisciplinary findings offered insight into two areas: first, knowledge surrounding how, why, and to what effect participants successfully decoded British sarcasm. Second and conversely, results evaluate how, why, and to what effect participants encountered decoding issues, divided into three primary aspects: inexperience with culture and context; deficiencies in language and understanding of speech; and an over-reliance on decoding through visual language. Secondary decoding issues that emerged include gender bias and age limitations, critical thinking obstacles, and laugh track interference. The project’s findings primarily impact the field of media and communications.



Anna Claydon; Jo Whitehouse-Hart

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Media, Communication, and Sociology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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