ALTERNATIVE REALITIES Downshifting narratives in contemporary lifestyle television

Thomas, Lyn (2008) ALTERNATIVE REALITIES Downshifting narratives in contemporary lifestyle television. Cultural Studies, 22 (5). pp. 680-699. ISSN 0950-2386

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This article will examine representations in contemporary British lifestyle television which express ambivalence about the benefits of a work-dominated, consumerist mode of living, and where a quest for alternative pleasures or practices drives the narrative. Rather than focusing on clearly contestatory voices and practices, such as environmental and anti-capitalist campaigns, groups or internet sites, I am looking at ‘mainstream’ media texts driven by commercial imperatives. My purpose here is to argue that ambivalent consumerism can be seen as a cultural continuum, a set of discursive networks which function across a range of differentiated sites, and are not confined to alternative or marginal contexts.
The article explores the nature of these commercially produced and determined representations. How are narratives of ‘downsizing’ and ‘downshifting’, of escaping abroad or to the country, to a better ‘quality of life’ constructed in contemporary television? What is the significance of ‘eco-reality’ programmes where excessive consumption of the earth’s resources is directly addressed? And finally: does a phenomenon which clearly implies the construction of a new niche market have any broader political significance and potential?

Item Type: Article
Keywords: reality television; lifestyle; consumerism; nostalgia; utopia; eco-reality
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture
Depositing User: Lyn Thomas
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2013 12:28
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2017 04:11

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