Sites of value? Discourses of religion and spirituality in the production of a New Zealand film and television series
Hardy, A. (2003). Sites of value? Discourses of religion and spirituality in the production of a New Zealand film and television series (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12040
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12040
This interdisciplinary study examines the nature of the discourses of religion and spirituality circulating in and around the production of a feature film, Saving Grace and a television mini-series, The Chosen, made and released in New Zealand during the period 1997-1999. Its interest is in the manner in which discourses of religion and spirituality are enlisted and modified in the process of mediation for public screening.Drawing on various insights derived from post-structuralist theory, and informed by recent work in the sociology of religion, the study operates within a modified tripartite model which balances information about the production context of the projects with text-interpretation, and analysis of media constructions (or reviews) of the text. Initially, a description of the complex socio-historical context in which the texts are situated, both globally and locally, is developed. The manner in which selected members of the production teams for the two projects understood meanings around religion and spirituality is then explored through the discursive analysis of material gained by the process of depth-interviewing. The production of the projects was followed over an extended time-duration, in order to ascertain whether those understandings changed under the many influences constituting the conditions of production. The second aspect of the analysis is interpretation of the texts themselves through an analysis of their narrative and generic structures, as well as their discursive content. Finally, responses and evaluations of the text by, in the case of Saving Grace, a series of 'interim' audiences, and for both projects, by media reviewers, are outlined and analyzed.On the basis of this research it is argued that investigation of the production of these projects provides valuable insights both into the changing nature of constructions of religion and spirituality within New Zealand culture and into the tensions involved in their textual encoding. These insights are to be found not just in the texts themselves, where professional norms of 'good' production, constrained and limited the ways in which discourses of religion and spirituality could be encoded, but also in the 'personal' speech of the research participants, marked both by a strong disapproval of institutional religiosity, and a wide-spread interest in informal varieties of spirituality.
The University of Waikato
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