Using Television: How Undergraduate Female Students Utilize Television as a Cultural Resource
King, Karen L.
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This qualitative dissertation study explores the ways television program content informs the participant's notions of academic and professional achievement and success. I argue that the undergraduate female students who participated in this study, whom I characterize as the post-feminist generation, are imagined as occupying a pivot point in the history of feminism because they are the first generation to have reaped the rewards of the second wave feminist movement. They face new opportunities as well as old and new barriers to making something of their lives. Access to education and the pervasiveness of popular media culture have informed their understandings of all of these new found opportunities in profound ways. Young women themselves draw on feminist strategies and resources often in ways that are not recognizable or typically political, representing important new ways that young women grapple with the contradictory narratives of individualism, personal power, crisis, and risk that surround them. Popular culture, specifically television content (text) and the representation of female characters on TV are part of larger cultural narratives that inform young women's identity development in very specific ways. Representations of women on TV currently take place within a cultural space of neo-liberal post-feminism, where post-feminist rhetoric frames sexual politics as no longer necessary, as women have achieved independence as it is understood through individual achievement. Despite actual current economic conditions in play in the U.S., and worldwide, through the rhetoric of neo-liberal, media generated, girlpower; many young women envision that they are entitled to these real and imagined opportunities. This framing informs how they understand achievement and success as well as ways that they understand empowerment, feminism and femininity. Additionally, they utilize television content as a resource which informs how they act as choice biographers (Harris, 2005) in shaping their educational opportunities to ensure future career success.