Comfort TV: considering everyday television use as a mode of self-care

Castle, Kerr (2019) Comfort TV: considering everyday television use as a mode of self-care. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis argues that television is an overlooked, yet often highly significant source of comfort in everyday life. It examines television’s contribution to the resilience and wellbeing of three distinct audience groups: family units, first-year undergraduate students and hospital patients. An important resource for comfort and support in many of their lives – a way by which to feel better – study data indicates that watching television can be an instrumental activity. More accurately, specific television texts and viewing routines become salient in light of the viewer’s shifting subjectivity, relied upon to regulate their feelings (consciously or unconsciously) and respond to external influences. Presenting two in-depth, qualitative case studies involving family units and first-year undergraduate students, and a third utilising survey data from hospital patients, I consider what comfort TV is and evaluate the effectiveness of this mode of self-care for my audiences in context. Beginning with the impact of setting, I demonstrate how viewers are positioned by their environment and how their relation to a specific space or place influences their need for and reception of TV. Through doing this, I make an argument for television viewing as a form of emotional digression, a way to manage emotion and compensate for threats to personal continuity. Illustrating how comfort viewing facilitates important moments of transition for various members of my study sample, I then analyse the characteristics of the comfort text. Focusing on the traditional television sitcom – which presents as the archetypal comfort genre – I consider how the comfort television text is realised through a combination of formal characteristics and experiential qualities. Given the findings and particular context of this research, I conclude by looking at television’s current use in hospital care and suggest how the medium might fulfil a more therapeutic purpose.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Comfort, television, TV, viewing, self-care, therapy, sitcom, everyday life, resilience, wellbeing, audience, hospital patient, NHS, qualitative.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Holdsworth, Dr. Amy and Lury, Prof. Karen
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mr Kerr M Castle
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-75058
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 08:41
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.75058

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