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Transformations of public and private knowledge: audience reception, feminism and experience of childhood sexual abuse

Kitzinger, Jenny 2001. Transformations of public and private knowledge: audience reception, feminism and experience of childhood sexual abuse. Feminist Media Studies 1 (1) , pp. 91-104. 10.1080/14680770120042882

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Abstract

This article examines an extraordinary cultural transformation in public and private knowledge: the discovery of child sexual abuse. It draws on interviews and focus group discussions conducted over eleven years to explore how dramatic changes in mass media coverage influenced public and personal perceptions of this issue. Focussing on the experiences of women and girls in the UK, my research highlights the media's special role, quite distinct from other cultural resources, in helping to confront and name sexual abuse. Media coverage made a crucial contribution to a spiral of recognition. It encouraged the formation and expression of private identities around this very fragmented and silenced experience. It helped sexual abuse, particularly incest, to enter public discourse. This article highlights the value of feminist media studies engaging with the 'public knowledge project' and vice versa. I argue that campaigns to address private, interpersonal violence and make it a public, political issue provide crucial case studies for analysing how media coverage impacts on society. Through such studies we can explore the media's role in constructing experience, identity, and social dialogue and also examine the potential and limits of audience creativity. Such case studies can help to identify how the media contribute to, rather than merely reflect, social change.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1468-0777
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 10:48
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/73007

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