Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication

Document Type



This qualitative study featured 33 in-depth interviews of college-aged, African-American women and offers baseline exploratory data about how a majority cultural artifact like televised depictions become utilized in the everyday lives of an underrepresented group in media studies. This research represents one of a few studies to explore how black females decode and utilize TV content, and offers a new theoretical framework to explain informants' decoded receptions, influence and utility of television. An inductive analysis of interview narratives found that viewers use TV content like a looking-glass to understand how they are seen by others and where they fit in the larger social arena. Television's normative cultural reflections are received, decoded, absorbed and self-applied to improve or enhance the social acceptability of black, female interpretive group members. The incidental lessons learned from the television mirror suggest that changing or reinventing oneself based on information gathered from TV content enhances viewers' satisfaction with themselves. Through TV transcripts black female informants in this study learn how they might improve their personal images to assimilate better into the social and professional circles of Caucasian-American lifestyles. Television's ubiquitous nature warrants a closer look at its influence and utility on TV audiences. This study posits that unwitting social and personal reasons promote the heavy television viewing behavior of African-American interpretive group members.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

David Perlmutter