Big Brother: Viewers Turned Accomplices on Reality TV

  • Danny Kaplan
Part of the Cultural Sociology book series (CULTSOC)


This chapter presents the case of the highly popular reality television show Big Brother. Drawing on semiotic analysis and extended audience research in Israel, the chapter demonstrates various practices of “mediated public intimacy” taking place between two or more contestants with the audience serving as an absent third party. Certain features built into the Big Brother format create atypical “folds” in the veil that separates insiders from outsiders. These serve to mobilize viewers’ sense of participation, moving them from the position of spectator to privileged confidants of the contestants. Interactions between viewers in everyday life and on social media locate them as accomplices and reinforce emergent feelings of collective intimacy. This analysis emphasizes the importance of social ties for understanding how media events generate national solidarity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Gender Studies ProgramBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael

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