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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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11

“Unity in Diversity?”

South African Women's Reception of National and Global Images of Belonging

Shelley-Jean Bradfield

ABSTRACT

The public television endeavor in South Africa to translate a multicultural ideology into programming addresses the plurality of citizen-viewers in the country through the stipulation of language and local content quotas, among other corporate objectives. But the way women negotiate television's attempts to reproduce a shared sense of national identity and the manner in which they view television as a means to participate in the national public sphere have not yet been assessed. This chapter intervenes by investigating the heterogeneous manner in which audiences utilize global and local programming in their identification as national subjects. First, white women offer an antagonistic response by distancing themselves from nation-building rhetoric and by expressing preferences for programming from other national contexts. Second, older black women collaborate by identifying with programming on television that they believe addresses issues of the nation directly. And, finally, a mixed racial and ethnic group of women demonstrate more ambivalent or critical responses to programming designed to bring people together around national concerns. The paradoxical responses of women to national programming suggest the exclusive qualities of the lived experience of multiculturalism versus the imagined success of the televised national project.

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