University of Leicester
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Putting together rurality : media producers and the social construction of the countryside

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:38 authored by Robert David Fish
This thesis examines the symbolic construction of rurality within a key site of contemporary cultural reproduction, television. In particular, it undertakes a semiotic analysis of ruralities in the popular texts of series television drama, and then relates these to the thoughts and practices of programme makers charged with their creation. The thesis defines a space for greater critical reflection upon popular media texts within the context of a broader cultural turn taking place across the humanities and social sciences. It demonstrates how the endeavour of contemporary rural studies is defined, in part, by this movement of ideas, but argues that it has failed to adequately explore the relationship between television and the cultural construction of rurality. This absence is surprising given the ubiquitous nature of these discourses in everyday life and a spate of highly popular televisual forms that appear to draw heavily on notions of rurality. The thesis takes as its substantive focus for discussion the series dramas Dangerfield, Heartbeat and Peak Practice, demonstrating the way rural identities are constructed in a variety of ways through their texts. It begins by highlighting a predominantly idyllic construction of rural setting at work in these dramas and the way that established social relations of these settings are built around a culturally competent set of problem solving, middle class, incomers. The analysis goes on to reveal how narrative conflict at work in these symbolic worlds defines the social relations of rurality in both a positive and negative fashion, and highlights the way that rural identities will often be transformed, as well as affirmed, over the unfolding of narrative events.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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