Televisie en zingeving: Spiritualiteit in de talkshow van Oprah Winfrey
SourceSociologische Gids, 47, 6, (2000), pp. 421-447
Article / Letter to editor
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Against the theoretical background of the assumed function of the media as an expert system in modern society, a qualitative content analysis of the world famous American talkshow of Oprah Winfrey is presented. The question of how Winfrey's personal spirituality affects the style and content of her talkshow is addressed in a content analysis and interpretation of 28 transcripts of the show, aired in the Netherlands in fall 1998. Analysis of the ultimate meaning, the advice given, and the discourses to which Oprah and her guests relate, reveals that spirituality is an eclectic mixture of traditional Christianity, New Age philosophy, and the therapeutic ethos. These elements are cast within the formula of the American Dream, which reaches higher grounds in the Oprah Winfrey show without losing the core of success, attainable for all. The show's message is reconstructed as a reformulation of the question of the meaning of life as a question of identity. The search for the true, divine self leads one to question one's relations toward others and learn how to behave in a morally responsible way.
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