A Mother's Battle Against TV News: A Case Study of Political Socialization

Tamar Liebes, Rivka Ribak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adopting the approach that regards TV's effect as an outcome of a process of negotiation between texts and viewers, we identify some mechanisms through which this negotiation takes place. This is a case study where members of one family in Israel, holding different political ideologies, view the evening news together and interact among themselves and with the news. Our analysis suggests that TV news inadvertently privileges a non-compromising attitude toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. While political ‘hawks' can decode the news at face value (‘referentially') in order to reinforce their position, ‘doves' have to master a sophisticated (‘constructional') understanding of the constraints of the genre, i.e. of the relationship between news and social reality, in order to do so. Specifically, we examine viewers' perceptions of this relationship as expressed in three meta-frames to the following issues: (1) Does TV news represent the normal or the exceptional? (2) Should it show the normal or the exceptional? and (3) What effect has it on other viewers? We then point out their relevance for the struggle over ideological persuasion in the family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-222
Number of pages20
JournalDiscourse and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • TV news
  • decoding
  • deviance
  • family
  • framing
  • hawks
  • ideology
  • negotiation
  • normal
  • socialization
  • ‘constructional'
  • ‘doves'
  • ‘referential'

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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