Social Class on British and American Screens

Essays on Cinema and Television


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About the Book

At a time when debates about social inequality are in the spotlight, it is worth examining how the two most popular media of the 20th and 21st centuries—film and television—have shaped the representation of social classes. How do generic conventions determine the representation of social stereotypes? How do filmmakers challenge social class identification? How do factors such as national history, geography and gender affect the representation of social classes? This collection of new essays explores these and other questions through an analysis of a wide range of American and British productions—from sitcoms and reality TV to documentaries and auteur cinema—from the 1950s to the present.

About the Author(s)

Nicole Cloarec is an associate professor in English at the University of Rennes 1 in France. She is the author of a doctoral thesis on Peter Greenaway and a number of articles on British and North American cinema.
David Haigron is an associate professor in English at the University of Rennes 2 in France. His research focuses on political ideology and communication, as well as social representations in cinema and television productions.
Delphine Letort is an associate professor in English at the University of Maine, Le Mans, France. Her research deals with issues of race, class, gender and historical representations in American cinema.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Nicole Cloarec, David Haigron and Delphine Letort
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6234-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2312-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments iv

Introduction  (Nicole Cloarec) 1

Part One. The Persistence of Stereotypes: Social Class in TV Sitcoms and Series

Six Decades of Social Class in American Sitcoms  (Richard Butsch) 18

Social Class and Class Distinctions in “Britcoms” (1950s–2000s)  

(Renée Dickason) 34

Authenticity and Performance of Class in British Factual TV Series  (Jonathan Bignell) 58

Part Two. Going Beyond Stereotypes? Social Class in Documentaries and Docudramas

“The only way is UP”: Social Mobility in Michael Apted’s UP Documentary Series  (Sabine Hillen) 76

Race and Class in Luisa Dantas’s Land of Opportunity (Delphine Letort) 89

“Gizza job! I can do that!” The Unmaking of the British Working Class in Alan Bleasdale’s Boys from the Blackstuff  (Carys Lewis) 101

From Documentary to Docudrama: ­Post-War British Television and the Social Issues of the Lower Classes  (Georges Fournier) 115

Part Three. Representing Class Divisions in Films

The Representation of Strike in British Cinema Since 1956: From

Class to Gender and Ethnicity  (Anne-Lise ­Marin-Lamellet) 134

In Praise of the Working Poor: Archeology of Class Struggle through the Arts of Representation in Comrades and The Fool (Nicole Cloarec) 153

Ken Loach and the Geographies of Class  (Wendy Everett) 167

Part Four. Social Class through a Gender Perspective Vanishing Act: The Sexualization of the Workplace and Disappearance of Class in American Television Dramas (1990s–2010s)  (Ava Baron) 184

The Gender and Class Politics of Social Realism in The Wire (T. Ann Kennedy) 204

Striking Women: Salt of the Earth, Norma Rae and Bread and Roses  (Penny Starfield) 218

Art and the Reversal of Hierarchies: Representing Women in Domestic Service in Upstairs, Downstairs (Delphine ­Lemonnier-Texier) 234

About the Contributors 249

Index 251