The labour of transformation and circuits of value 'around' reality television

Beverley Skeggs, Helen Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current swathe of ‘reality’ television engulfing our television channels could be seen as the medium ultimately fulfilling its own technical potential. Television as a domestic medium reorients the household space it physically inhabits into the space it covers or represents on television. What Lang and Lang call ‘The unique perspective of television’ (1982, cited in Scannell Citation2001) refers to the way in which television's claims to liveness and immediacy create a sense of spatially and temporally ‘being there’, an experience which a phenomenologist such as Paddy Scannell would describe as an ‘authentic’ publicness through which we have direct access to the witnessing of events ‘out there’, or a kind of proximity without presence (Fleisch Citation1987). In many ways, therefore, ‘reality’ television represents some of the triumphs of the medium. However edited, scripted or formatted, ‘reality’ television presents the audience with the tension over an impossibly knowable ‘what will happen next’, making us part of the unravelling of the ‘real’ before our eyes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-572
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008


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