Lecture to explore what reality TV is doing to us
Jayne Raisborough, Professor of Media in the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities at Leeds Beckett, will deliver her Professorial Inaugural Lecture on Wednesday 6 December at 6pm in the University’s Rose Bowl building.
As she explained: “It’s hard to escape reality television - the makeover in particular so dominates primetime viewing - that we are all familiar with the ‘before and after’ narrative. Drawing on weight-loss shows and anti-ageing makeovers, my lecture will make links with the shame-filled representations of ‘before’ bodies and a wider cultural stigma of ‘having let oneself go’. By demonstrating that we learn very little weight-loss advice from diet makeover programmes, I argue that instead we are learning how to make moralised judgments about fat and about our self-responsibility for health. I believe that these may interfere with our ability to understand our own bodies and health, and that of others.
“I will also look at age makeovers on television and examine how women’s worth is reduced to clichéd ideals of sexy beauty in shows that promise to make women ten years younger. I’ll discuss the social and psychological harms of anti-ageing messaging and make a case for makeovers to be seen as poison for which an antidote is urgently required.”
Jayne arrived at Leeds Beckett via the University of Brighton, where she taught and wrote about sociological aspects of the mass media for 12 years. Her teaching and research interests are at first glance wide-ranging – from feminist theory, social class, serious leisure, gun ownership, cosmetic surgery, ethical consumption to makeover television programming.
She explained: “Although these research topics are diverse, they are all part of a wider investigation into what identities are made possible for us - in other words, just who are we allowed or encouraged to be, how we can take up these possibilities of being and the consequences of these on how we feel about ourselves and others. It is the relations of self and other that bring me to explore social inequalities, injustice and discrimination. Holding neoliberalism, and more recently the practices and rhetoric of austerity, to critical account is a necessary focus of my work.”
Jayne became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2016 and is a Member of the British Sociological Association and a Member of the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association.
She has written more than 20 journal articles and book chapters and co-edited the 2007 book Risk, Identities and the Everyday.
Jayne added: “Many people assume that they know what media scholars do; and while there is important work to be had in analysing media as texts for areas such as constructions of crime, identity, class, consumption, gender and political engagement, our work at Leeds Beckett is also examining fandom, celebrity, the historical aspects, and the political economy of media (it is after all, big business!). Our work is also addressing prejudice and stigma (for example racism in football) and researching and teaching those all-important skills of media literacy.
“Additionally, our research is extending into how we sense and feel spaces and places: this is important work because it explores how we engage with digital worlds through app design and how we engage with culture (the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for example), our green spaces, our gardens, our deindustrialised landscapes and our bodies as we move through those spaces. The complexities of identity, memory, nostalgia and wellbeing are central to this work.”
In May 2017 Leeds Beckett was awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze charter from the Equality Challenge Unit.
The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 by the Equality Challenge Unit and is awarded to organisations for their commitment to, and progress on, gender equality. The Charter initially set out to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research. This was extended in 2015 to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law, and for those working in professional and support roles.
For more information about Leeds Beckett’s commitment to gender equality, please visit the Athena SWAN page.
For more information about the Athena SWAN charter, visit the Equality Challenge Unit website.