Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Playing for celebrity: Big Brother as ritual event

By Nick Couldry


If we are to understand series such as the first U.K. version of Big Brother as events, rather than just as texts or production processes, we need to draw on anthropological theory, for example, Dayan and Katz's theory of media events. This article develops an anthropologically informed argument about the status of Big Brother as event, its ambiguous claims to present social “reality,” and the connection of those claims with its other claim to offer “liveness” in a new web-enhanced form. These ambiguities can be traced not only in the discourse of the program but also in the discourses by producers and others that surrounded it, ambiguities that are ideological in the same way that “myth” was for Roland Barthes

Topics: HE Transportation and Communications
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1177/152747640200300304
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles


  1. (2001). 2 Above all, its argument that the momentum of such sociality has replaced ‘class’ as an organising principle: the effacement of public expression of ‘class’ does not mean it has ceased to matter (cf Couldry,
  2. (2000). Big Brother: The Official Unseen Story. London: Channel Four Books.
  3. (1975). Drama in a Dramatised Society. Cambridge:
  4. (1974). Dramas Fields and Metaphors. Cornell: doi
  5. (2000). Fake Talk Shows and Other Scandals: Taking Media (Un)Belief Seriously. Unpublished manuscript. 16 Couldry,
  6. (1996). has contributed a great deal to the analysis of how this construction is sustained.
  7. (2001). Lythgow,
  8. (1992). Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History. doi
  9. (1973). Mythologies. London: Paladin. Billig, Michael.1997. From Codes to Utterances: Cultural Studies, Discourse and Psychology. doi
  10. (1980). Negara: The Theatre State doi
  11. (1995). o.p. doi
  12. (1990). On Symbolic Power. doi
  13. (2001). Pore Close TV. Presentation given to MeCCSA conference,
  14. (1984). Purity and Danger. London: Ark Paperbacks.
  15. (1996). Radio Television and Modern Life.
  16. (1999). Remediation: Understanding New Media. doi
  17. (1999). Review of Media Ritual and Identity edited by T. Liebes
  18. (1988). Television Myth and Culture. doi
  19. (1992). The Anthropology of Performance. doi
  20. (1983). The Concept of Live Television: Ontology as Ideology. In Regarding Television edited by
  21. (1961). The Image – Or What Happened to the American Dream. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. doi
  22. (1981). The Message of Television. doi
  23. (2000). The Place of Media Power: Pilgrims and Witnesses of Media Power. doi
  24. (1992). The Power of TV News. The World and I,
  25. (1993). The Shadow of Dionysus. doi
  26. (1996). The Time of the Tribes. doi
  27. (2000). Where were you when Nasty Nick was Kicked out of Big Brother?.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.