Social History


My research indentifies, through examination of popular culture, a major shift in meanings and values surrounding the working class at a vital time in US history: the Reagan years. During the Reagan Era, the working class was weakened economically, politically and ideologically. I explore three salient themes evidenced throughout the family-centered sitcoms analyzed in my research: Minimization of Working-Class jobs, Working Class Selfdeprecation and Defeat, and the Stigmatization of aid/assistance. These themes emerged from an inductive analysis of family based sitcoms (airing 1980-1988) which encompassed main characters who were both representatives of the corporate elite and had direct interactions with working class characters. During the Reagan Era, nearly the entirety of working class characters in US sitcoms were servants, laborers or adoptees of upper middle class families; whose only meaningful role was as a foil for the values, work ethic and behavior of the corporate class. Through my research I found that during the Reagan era, class representations on television contributed to an enervation of working class issues and thus bolstered Reagan administration policies.

Abstract Format




Faculty Mentor

Dr. Virginia Husting