Paid Work in Popular Culture: How Adult Employment is Portrayed in Family-Genre Films

McDonald, Paula K. & Townsend, Keith J. (2007) Paid Work in Popular Culture: How Adult Employment is Portrayed in Family-Genre Films. In 15th International Employment Relations Association Conference: Working Lives, Working Choices, 9 - 13 July, Canterbury, England.

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This study explores how adult paid work is portrayed in ‘family’ feature length films. In the context of theoretical perspectives such as priming and observational learning theory, the study extends previous critical media literature which has focused on depictions of gender and violence, to suggest ways in which children may learn about relationships in the workplace and rights and responsibilities in employment structures. Thirty-eight films were analysed for relevant themes. Films were included in the sample if they received a G/PG rating, had widespread circulation, and portrayed at least one adult engaged in paid work in an identifiable occupation. The occupations of characters were coded according to type of job and the gender of the worker. Consistent with the exploratory nature of the research, other themes emerged inductively from the films’ content. Results reveal six major themes: males are more visible in adult work roles than women; the division of labour remains gendered; work and home are not mutually exclusive domains; authority and power is wielded in obvious ways; there is hope for employees in low skilled, repetitive jobs; and status/money is paramount. The findings of the study have implications for children’s expectations of occupational choice, communication and interactions with employers, and the rewards that paid work can provide.

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ID Code: 9275
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Paid Work, Popular Culture, Employment, Films, Industrial Relations
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Industrial Relations (150306)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (please consult author)
Copyright Statement: The contents of this conference can be freely accessed online via the conference’s web page (see link).
Deposited On: 03 Sep 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:32

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