To be a common hero: The uneasy balance between the ordinary and ordinariness in the subject position of mediated ordinary people in the talk show Jan Publiek

Nico Carpentier, Wim Hannot

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This chapter looks at the articulations of the subject position ‘ordinary people’ by analysing focus group discussions with audience members, and interviews with participants in a north Belgian audience discussion programme called Jan Publiek. In this talk show ordinary people are granted access to a prime-time, live television programme, in order to discuss one specific issue each broadcast. This feature positions Jan Publiek among what have been called ‘audience discussion programmes’ or ‘vox-pop’ programmes (in contrast to elite talk shows). The chapter focuses on the construction of the ordinary person as a complex and multi-layered subject position. We argue that this identity is relational, and positioned towards an alliance of power-blocs consisting of celebrities, experts, politicians and media professionals. Through this relational positioning, ordinary people become articulated in Jan Publiek as authentic, but also as unorganized, apolitical, powerless, unknown, spontaneous and unknowledgeable. Lefebvre’s distinction between the everyday and everydayness is then used to evaluate the political and emancipatory capacity of Jan Publiek and audience discussion programmes in general, which are sometimes criticized for their commodified and apolitical nature, but on other occasions valued for their democratic potential.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication and Discourse Theory
Subtitle of host publicationCollected works of the Brussels Discourse Theory Group
EditorsLeen Van Brussel, Benjamin De Cleen, Nico Carpentier
Place of PublicationBristol
PublisherIntellect Publishers
Pages227-244
ISBN (Print)9781789380545
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • audience discussion programme
  • everyday life
  • media participation
  • ordinary people
  • subject position
  • television studies

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