Per Vesterlund, University of Gävle
With a starting point in the increasing amount of domestic fiction and documentaries in Swedish television after the introduction of the second national public service channel in 1969, the 1970s is domestically remembered as a decade of social issue television. This profile of national TV-production did not end until the late 1980s with another breaking point in the history of Swedish television – the introduction of cable-TV and a new commercial logic.
In the intersection between History and Film studies, cinematic memories have frequently served as a topic of historical interest. Televisual drama has though been somewhat less discussed in this academic context, which might be regarded surprising bearing in mind the impact of the medium – especially in the late 20th century.
The programs made during these years are thus part of a national TV-history, representing (changing) ideas of what a audiovisual fiction preferably would achieve in terms of aesthetic as well as of didactic and political means. But they are also a part of the national memory at the time, often in retrospective signifying an era of political awareness – or of public leftist repression.
In this paper I will – as a pilot on a planned project on the Swedish TV-fiction of the time – discuss the public reception of two social issue mini-series, Lära för livet (Learning for Life, 1977) and Babels hus (The House of Babel 1981). Each of them focusing on key-areas of the welfare state - public school and health care, respectively – they were both subject of intense media debate. The discussions did not so much focus the quality of the two series, as it did the question of whether the reality the described were accurate.
Theme: Television drama, public reception, social issues, memories, cultural flows,
John Caughie, Television drama: Realism, modernism, and British culture (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000) Anna Edin, Den föreställda publiken (Brutus Östlings förlag, 2000) Janet Staiger, Interpreting Films (Princeton University Press, 1992) Janet Staiger, Media Reception Studies (New York University, 2005)
NECS 2016 - Network for European Film and Media Scholars, 28-30 July 2016, Potsdam, Germany