Documentary at a crossroads: reality TV and de hybridization of small screen documentary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today, as tendencies of popularization and hybridization have fundamentally redefined conventional
notions of (small) screen documentary, the genre (re-)emerges as a particularly appealing
topic of scholarly research. This article elaborates some of the main strands of the multifaceted
debate about these ongoing developments, thereby focusing on the 'reality TV' phenomenon,
which is probably the most notable, yet also most controversial embodiment of the shifting that
takes place. Discussing key positions regarding the problem of labeling and definition, questions of
documentary values, and ethical issues, it is argued that a comprehensive, nuanced approach based
on profound conceptualizations as well as empirical research into production and reception
contexts are invaluable in making an astute assessment of the popular hybrid documentary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)884-898
Number of pages15
JournalSociology Compass
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • documentary
  • reality television
  • television
  • hybridization


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