'For crying out loud': the repression of the child's subjectivity in The House of Tiny Tearaways

Lury, K.E. (2009) 'For crying out loud': the repression of the child's subjectivity in The House of Tiny Tearaways. Semiotica, 173(1-4), pp. 491-507. (doi: 10.1515/SEMI.2009.023)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/SEMI.2009.023


This article addresses the representation and mediation of the child-as-subject in British reality-television 'parenting' programmes, focusing on the BBC's 'The House of Tiny Tearaways.' It suggests that the programme produces a set of discourses - surveillance, exploitation, regulation, and transformation - and that these discourses mirror the current Labour government's initiatives in relation to children and childhood. The article asks whether these discourses have a repressive effect on the more 'extraordinary' aspects of childhood and on children's agency. Since the children represented on the programme cry so frequently and so loudly, the article then goes on to interrogate the performance and visibility of tears as way in which we might think about the status and qualities of the child as subject. One important aspect of the programme is a distinctive 'narrative' of crying, so that while the child's tears are apparently stopped, the parents or caregivers are then seen crying 'appropriately' in line with the programme's enforced transformative and therapeutic discourse. In this narrative trajectory, the child is presented simply as a 'symptom' of the parents' or caregivers' pathology and it is suggested that the child's subjectivity and agency is thereby distorted or even 'faked' by the programme.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lury, Professor Karen
Authors: Lury, K.E.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Semiotica
ISSN (Online):1613-3692
Published Online:12 February 2009

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