Title

I'll drink to that!" : an analysis of alcohol related behaviors and communication practices on MTV's Jersey Shore "

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name

M.A. in Communication

Department

Department of Communication

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Teresa L. Thompson

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to provide a background of alcohol and related risk behaviors, and analyze their portrayal in the popular MTV series Jersey Shore. This study bridges the gap between research conducted in the areas of Reality Television and Health Communication in the media. While previous studies have critically analyzed the genre of Reality Television and the communication of risk related behaviors and Health Communication studies independently, how Reality Television as a genre communicates health related behaviors has yet to be explored. A content analysis was conducted to identify and interpret how physical and communicative behaviors were depicted on MTV's Jersey Shore and categorized how both men and women display and consume, as well as communicate messages, about alcohol. Four frames related to alcohol use were identified: escape, fun, excuse, and problematic/corrective references were used by characters to discuss alcohol use and outcomes. Results indicated high rates of alcohol consumption but minimal depictions of related negative outcomes. In addition, women were shown drinking and intoxicated more often than men, and there were significant differences by sex in terms of communication patterns related to alcohol. Women tended to send more messages that related to potential negative outcomes, and were also more likely to associate alcohol as a means to positive social interaction than their male counterparts. In addition earlier seasons were grouped together and compared to the final season after one character announced an unplanned pregnancy and another underwent substance abuse treatment prior to filming. Although consumption rates did decrease, the communication practices did not change.

Keywords

Jersey Shore (Television program) History and criticism, Alcoholism in mass media, Drinking of alcoholic beverages Sex differences, Risk-taking (Psychology), Communication, health communication, content analysis, reality television, alcohol and media, adolescent risk behavior, MTV, Jersey Shore, alcohol and risk behaviors

Rights Statement

Copyright 2014, author

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