Gender In Reality Television : A semiotic analysis of masculinity and femininity in the Survivor franchise

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för mediestudier

Författare: Michelle Timmermans; [2012]

Nyckelord: ;


This thesis intends to bring up masculinity and femininity as presented in the American adaptation of the Survivor series. Focus will lie on exposing subtle differences in the programs presentation of men and women in the first episode of the currently on-air season of the show. In attempting to do so, the following questions will also be put into focus:

- What male or female stereotypes seem to be encouraged? - What notable signs relating to gender are featured in the episode? - How can these signs be interpreted? - What do these presentations imply about gender roles?

Through the use of literature to study the reality-TV genre, this thesis will provide theories on gender, stereotypes, and the broader reality-TV genre, which will be researched further through semiotic theory and representation in the media. Here, a variety of prior research on the subject, for example Henry Jenkins, Richard Dyer and Annette Hill will be presented.

Semiotic theories based on the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Roland Barthes will provide the basis for a semiotic analysis of signification within the chosen episode. Through the identification of and analysis of signs in the chosen episode, a content analysis will provide insight into underlying attitudes towards men and women in the 24th season of Survivor.

The analysis found evidence of the utilization of recognizable stereotypes in order to strengthen the personalities and reliability of the contestants. Both the acknowledgment of gender stereotypes and those of smaller social groups were apparent in the episode. When decoding several signs throughout the episode, there were also indications of the encouragement of traditional gender roles as the norm, and the portrayal of masculinity and femininity were depicted as central parts of established gender roles. Connotation associated with the selected signs seemed to both recognize and operate on gender roles. There was certain evidence that appeared to encourage rivalry between men and women, and suggest a society driven by historical gender roles. This episode of Survivor did not seem to question society’s gender roles, rather encourages them, where certain male dominance over women is evident.

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