SEXUAL AND GENDER DIVERSITY IN PUBLIC SERVICE MEDIA: PSMs at the interface between media production and normative discourses on LGBT+ representation

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Television
  • Social sciences
    • Cultural media
    • Gender and media
Cultural Studies Media Industries LGBT+ studies
Project description

The representation of sexual and gender difference in popular culture has mostly been addressed in mainstream US media. Hence, the interplay between media production and societal norms on LGBT+ portrayals is argued to be mediated by the interests of private enterprises. To navigate the representational interface, they independently appraise and apply normative convictions about LGBT+ portrayals best suited to their aims. While prominent in Western European cultural spaces, public service media [PSMs] have been largely overlooked in LGBT+ media studies. But in the face of LGBT+ representations’ increased prominence as catalysts for often heated public debate, PSMs clearly operate in a more complex representational interface. Required to attend to various external demands – from legal commitments to diverse representation to informal pressures by civil society, they cannot only prioritize their own interests as media companies to navigate conflicting views on how sexual and gender difference is to be represented. Focusing on the institutional (1), public (2) and individual (3) dimensions to the representational interface PSMs operate in, this project investigates how various forces shape LGBT+ representation in Western European PSM programming. Analyzing the distinct representational norms PSMs in Ireland, the Netherlands and Flanders navigate when portraying sexual and gender difference, the project results in an industrial framework to understand PSM LGBT+ representation in.