Looking at Television: An exploration of the different ways Gujarati-speaking Indian Hindu diasporic women look at and engage with television during their daily viewings of prime-time Hindi serials.


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is a television audience study that will examine the complex ways viewers look at and engage with television. The research seeks to not only deepen our understanding of established characterisations of looking and engagement, but it is also concerned with how viewers can negotiate texts. Thus, the study explores other ways of looking and forms of engagement. I specifically interrogate the concept of darshan. A two-way ocular gesture that means to look at be looked at. It is a form of worship practiced by some forms of Hinduism. The power dynamics of darshan are very different from the characterisations developed in American-British scholarship. While the gaze (Mulvey, 1975) gives the power of the look to the person doing the looking; and the glance (Ellis, 1982/1992) implies power of the look is given over to the institution of television. But with darshan, it is the object of darshan that has the power and it is they that decide when to reciprocate the look.

In order to examine these concepts, I apply a mixed-methods approach to a specific audience that has been overlooked in television audience studies. Consequently, while exploring new ways of looking and forms of engagement the research also brings to the fore the viewing habits of older Gujarati-speaking Indian Hindu diasporic women, living in the north western city of Preston. I specifically focus on their daily viewings of prime-time Hindi language serials on transnational digital channels. The range of methods used, allow me to examine and analyse the factors and conditions in which television is looked at and engaged with to help understand just what kind of characterisations of looking and engagement might be more applicable to describe this audiences’ experience. Factors that will be examined include, but not limited to, the text themselves, as well as physical spaces, their history with television and the use of television technology, to name but a few. The thesis finds that a fluid negotiation of text, environment, aspects of personhood and life experience feed into ways of looking and forms of engagement. The complex fluctuations can vary from moment to moment, from serial to serial but are grounded via a lens that is deeply individual personal to each participant.
Date of Award12 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorCLAIRE PARKINSON (Director of Studies) & ELKE WEISSMANN (Supervisor)


  • Television Audiences
  • Diaspora
  • Women

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