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Interpreting television narrative : how viewers see a story

Livingstone, Sonia ORCID: 0000-0002-3248-9862 (1990) Interpreting television narrative : how viewers see a story. Journal of Communication, 40 (1). pp. 72-82. ISSN 1460-2466

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.1990.tb02252.x


Questions have been raised about whether all viewers receive the same message from a television program. However, there has been little systematic investigation of divergence in interpretations. The present research investigated the nature and degree of divergence among viewers' interpretations of a soap opera narrative watched in natural circumstances. Four distinct interpretive positions were adopted by viewers which related closely but not straightforwardly to the two alternative readings made available to them by the structure of the program, and which also included intermediate or negotiated readings. Interpretative divergence appeared to depend on viewers' relationships with the central characters of the narrative, as expressed through character identification, evalution, and recognition. The implications of these findings for the empirical and theoretical study of divergent interpretations and their relation to program structure are discussed.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of communication following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version [Livingstone, S. (1990). Interpreting television narrative : how viewers see a story. Journal of communication 40(1), 72-82] is available online at: . LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website. Original title information : 'Divergent interpretations of television narrative'.
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2024 17:30

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