TV fiction reflects and reproduces national identities in times of crisis
In times of crisis, TV fiction becomes concerned with changes in the social world, but also with how responses to these changes are visible in a national identity. These conclusions are drawn in a thesis from the university of Gothenburg.
"In times of intense social turbulence, TV fiction plays an important socio-cultural role, which has to do with internal processes of understanding, accepting or even rejecting national identities," Georgia Aitaki, author of the thesis, says.
"On these occasions, television fiction both mirrors events of the social world and 'layers' them with meanings which can have a crucial effect on how the national self is assessed," she adds.
For her thesis, she has analysed content in, and production conditions for, fiction in commercial TV in Greece, from 1989 up until today, in order to better understand media's role in critical and tumultuous times.
Her results show that domestically produced fiction provides a window into a nation's past, present, and future, by means of reflecting and commenting on national sentiments in particular moments in time, but also across time. By incorporating events and conditions which are dominant in the social world in the content of popular programs, fiction provides understandings of the turbulent times and contributes to the changing development of a national identity.
As an example, she picks Greece's financial crisis in late 2000.
"A popular comedy show commented on who was responsible for the situation, and suggested that it is hard for Greeks to change who they are. Thereby it reproduced stereotypes about Greeks," Georgia Aitaki says.
Even though the media landscape is changing in Greece, popular media platforms hosting television fiction are primarily commercial. According to recent reports, public broadcasting is mostly investing in imported television fiction programs. In order to build a stronger relationship with local audiences and to support television professionals, Georgia Aitaki thinks public media ought to change direction.
"It's important that they make more space for domestically produced fiction, so that they don't leave the possibility of influencing national identity only to commercial powers," she says.