The third space of television viewers
Sanja Puljar D'Alessio (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Rijeka)
Paper short abstract:
Based on the research in Naples (Italy) and Studentski grad in Zagreb (Croatia), the paper considers the television viewers' interpretation of the quiz 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' as a cultural praxis that reflects social relations and meanings.
Paper long abstract:
Based on the research made in two different localities: Petraio in Naples (Italy) and Studentski grad in Zagreb (Croatia), the paper considers the interpretation of television viewers of the quiz "Who wants to be a millionaire?" as a cultural praxis that reflects social relations and meanings. The paper argues that the viewers' interpretations of the television program make part of the social space. As marginal, passive, subordinated and mute, and at the same time active, conscious, critical, the interpretations speak about central social issues - very much like the third space (espace vécu) of Henri Lefebvre (1991). The third space approach is fruitful in the analysis of viewers' interpretations since it discloses that it is not so important what the inhabitant of Studentski grad or Petraio says about the quiz, but rather the references on social and cultural, everyday life made through his interpretation. Talking from the marginal position of the consumer of cultural product people have opened the interpretation of the television program towards the central social issues: critique of the social moment and their own everyday life. Thus, television viewing overlaps with non-media practices of leisure time. Namely, leisure time represents a social safety valve since it is fulfilled with different activities trying to step back from everyday duties. Leisure time, although it is a part of everyday life, in attempt to step back from it nourishes the moments of its critique. Here the reception of the quiz gets interesting because through its interpretation it is possible to read the critique shaped in the processes of evaluation (of the description of success, of the evaluation of knowledge and luck on the way to success, of the concepts of wealth and money as the key indications of success/knowledge). Finally, thanks to its complexity, the viewers' interpretation of television programs successfully talks about subjectivity, society and culture and expands its significance beyond the media practices.