Drawing on media studies and science and technology studies, this presentation intends to analyze the interaction between the specificities of science and the specificities of general TV, analyzing how one of the most important scientific areas aired in TV, medicine, is represented in one of the most important genre of Italian general TV – the talk show focused on public discussion of issues of concern. Differently from the popular science shows, talk shows do not only channel information and advice from experts to the public, but they also promote discussions and arguments between them, mashing up entertainment and information, public and private interests, personal experience and general notions, involved and critical positions and so forth. The process of layfication of medicine is analyzed through the construction and the deconstruction of credibility and trust, focusing, in particular, on the role played by the patient’s body.

Empirical data are gathered in two steps. Firstly, 377 shows of the Italian programs of public debate – Porta a porta and Matrix – channeled by the two most important general national Tv channels – respectively by Rai 1 and Canale 5 – have been recorded (from January to December 2007 and from September 2009 to February 2010) and filtered according to the presence of medical experts and topics. Secondly, the final sample (22 shows) has been analyzed qualitatively.

Generally, medicine is a sort of scenic backdrop, where people are scrutinized through the perspective of medical gaze on the patient’s body. This sort of dislocation of the professional regard emphasizes the importance of physical aspects of participants, be them laypeople, journalists or experts, who are contextually reclassified according to a bodily characteristic or condition such as obesity, baldness, some kind of physical impairments, and so forth. The discourse on the body which emerges is articulated through the exhibition of some medical aspects of the body, which are decisive resources for establishing the credibility and the authority of a participant’s point of view. In conclusion, the medicalized patient’s body plays a crucial role in many respects, from the selection criteria of participants to the process of construction of scientific credibility and, moreover, it is used by the TV as a tool able to introduce new intriguing mixes of argument style and performance that characterizes talk shows and neotelevision in general.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Medicine and bodies in Italian talk shows

Mauro Turrini   PaSTIS – Padova University

Drawing on media studies and science and technology studies, this presentation intends to analyze the interaction between the specificities of science and the specificities of general TV, analyzing how one of the most important scientific areas aired in TV, medicine, is represented in one of the most important genre of Italian general TV – the talk show focused on public discussion of issues of concern. Differently from the popular science shows, talk shows do not only channel information and advice from experts to the public, but they also promote discussions and arguments between them, mashing up entertainment and information, public and private interests, personal experience and general notions, involved and critical positions and so forth. The process of layfication of medicine is analyzed through the construction and the deconstruction of credibility and trust, focusing, in particular, on the role played by the patient’s body.

Empirical data are gathered in two steps. Firstly, 377 shows of the Italian programs of public debate – Porta a porta and Matrix – channeled by the two most important general national Tv channels – respectively by Rai 1 and Canale 5 – have been recorded (from January to December 2007 and from September 2009 to February 2010) and filtered according to the presence of medical experts and topics. Secondly, the final sample (22 shows) has been analyzed qualitatively.

Generally, medicine is a sort of scenic backdrop, where people are scrutinized through the perspective of medical gaze on the patient’s body. This sort of dislocation of the professional regard emphasizes the importance of physical aspects of participants, be them laypeople, journalists or experts, who are contextually reclassified according to a bodily characteristic or condition such as obesity, baldness, some kind of physical impairments, and so forth. The discourse on the body which emerges is articulated through the exhibition of some medical aspects of the body, which are decisive resources for establishing the credibility and the authority of a participant’s point of view. In conclusion, the medicalized patient’s body plays a crucial role in many respects, from the selection criteria of participants to the process of construction of scientific credibility and, moreover, it is used by the TV as a tool able to introduce new intriguing mixes of argument style and performance that characterizes talk shows and neotelevision in general.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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