Co-construction of migrant workers’ identities on a TV talk show in China

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This study examines how identities of migrant workers (i.e. nongmingong) havebeen constructed and represented on a TV talk show program in China, called“China’s Nongmingong”, launched by Guizhou Satellite TV (GZSTV) in Chinain 2007. Drawing on narrative theories concerning interactions between narrativeand identity, and a dramaturgical model of social interaction analysis, thisstudy explores how the nongmingong’s personal life experiences are transformedinto public discourse. It is proposed that there are three stages in this process oftransformation, namely ‘off stage’, ‘back stage’, and ‘front stage’, through whichthe media prepares the participatory nongmingong for the live TV program. Thestudy finds that the program, in order to fulfil a specific social purpose, adoptsvarious discursive practices to represent nongmingong’s identities as normalor even supernormal in contrast to the public discourse which depicts them asabnormal.


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