Sex, lies and storytelling: The sociology of talk shows

October 22, 2008

New research on the manner in which people reveal their most intimate secrets on national TV talk shows will be presented at the University of Leicester on Wednesday October 22.

Professor Ian Hutchby, Professor of Sociology at the University of Leicester, will present his paper: Revealing revelations: 'Performed retellings' of significant announcements on a TV talk show.

In his talk, Professor Hutchby will discuss his findings on the way the revelation of personal information is managed by the protagonist.

He said: "There is now an established tradition of television talk shows in which secrets, affairs and other private things are 'revealed' for the watching audience. Sometimes, such things are also revealed for co-guests in the studio.

"In either case, revelations of this type can be linked to significant life effects. Two recurring themes in such shows are:

-- revelations of extramarital affairs which potentially have consequences regarding paternity of a couple's child or children;
-- revelations of homosexuality or transsexuality between couples living in an established heterosexual relationship.

"My paper focuses on one example of the latter, in which now-divorced women recount, in interaction with the show's host, how the revelation of their homosexuality to their erstwhile heterosexual partner - their husband - was managed.

"In the sequential organisation of such accounts, we sometimes see the phenomenon of performed retelling, in which a speaker uses para-verbal phenomena - prosody, gesture, facial expression - to inflect the same story in different ways.

"The analysis will consider the interactional work these performed retellings may be doing; in particular, the management of emotional labour in talk that is produced for an audience."

Professor Hutchby's research focuses on the relationship between language and social interaction.

He said: "I examine how the social processes involved in language use relate to the structures of human relations and social institutions. I have been analyzing radio and television talk since the early 1990s, and in my recent book Media Talk (Open University Press, 2006) I showed how this research is important for a range of issues in contemporary democracy, such as the relationship between journalists, broadcasters and their audiences, and the public role of media output."

Source: University of Leicester

Explore further: Show me how you write on social media and I'll tell you your age and sex

Related Stories

Time travel with the molecular clock

November 23, 2015

Migration isn't a new phenomenon, but new insights suggest that modern-day Europeans actually have at least three ancestral populations. This finding was published by Johannes Krause and prominently featured on the cover ...

Drones for social good

November 18, 2015

Flying robot technology is helping researchers find new ways to deliver medical aid to remote areas, monitor the environment and more.

Studying the differences in similarities

November 17, 2015

Data mining is not just about numbers: It is premised on human behaviour, and the multitude of decisions that we make every day. A researcher from Singapore Management University is trying to identify useful patterns from ...

Recommended for you

Four pre-Inca tombs found in Peru's Lima

November 27, 2015

Archaeologists in Peru have found four tombs that are more than 1,000 years old in a pyramid-shaped cemetery that now sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Lima, experts said.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.