Culture and Citizenship: A Case Study of Practice in the BBC

Pawley, Laurence. 2010. Culture and Citizenship: A Case Study of Practice in the BBC. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis constitutes a critique of current citizenship theory, focussed on the ways in which various definitions of `culture' have gained recognition as part of citizenship's theoretical terrain. Through a qualitative case study of practice within the BBC, the thesis reflects on the limitations and potentialities of current scholarship, and suggests how a pragmatic cultural citizenship might offer a way forward.

The thesis begins through an engagement with existing literature which produces distinct `models' of citizenship: liberal, liberal cosmopolitan, multi-cultural, and `deep cultural'. These models function as a conceptual `toolkit', and the following chapter demonstrates how, via public sphere theory, they can be applied to understand the relationship between communicative institutions and citizens. The relationship between citizenship theory and media practice is thereby made explicit, laying the foundations for subsequent empirical work.

The empirical chapters take the form of a qualitative case study of policy and practice in the BBC. This begins with a brief analysis of the institution's policy history with respect to citizenship, and subsequently focuses on the 2006 broadcast Manchester Passion. The case study reveals how policy relating to issues including identity and participation was implemented at the micro-level. In doing so, the thesis explores how which different conceptualisations of citizenship function in concert with practical `logics' (including economy, cultural difference, and genre).
Building on this analysis, the thesis concludes by suggesting that the BBC's practice was most effective when it adopted a pragmatic approach to cultural conflicts. This argument (described in terms of `cultural balance') is mapped back onto the models developed earlier in the theses, and used to propose that citizenship theory should seek to reimagine itself on a more fluid basis; one that recognises that citizenship is inevitably realised in socially and culturally specific circumstances.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Culture and Citizenship, Citizenship theory, BBC, policy and practice



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Date Deposited:

11 Jun 2020 15:46

Last Modified:

18 Oct 2022 12:37


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