Conceiving a talk show and civic talk through young women’s eyes : gender in an audience study on Indonesian talk show ‘Mata Najwa’

University essay from Lunds universitet/Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap

Abstract: The thesis focuses on the agency of young Indonesian women audiences promoted by an Indonesia television talk show, Mata Najwa. The aim of the thesis is understanding the engagement of young Indonesian women with the programme and how they acquire knowledge from this public discussion talk show as their resource in having civic talk about political and social issues in Indonesia. It also explores the ultimate role of the female host, Najwa Shihab, as part of these young Indonesian women engagement. Through semi-structured interviews with fifteen informants in Indonesia, the thesis creates an understanding that the way young Indonesian women give meanings to the show and have civic talk in the private sphere is tightly correlated with the context of patriarchal culture in Indonesia. The study is theoretically informed by the notion of civic mix (Stephen Coleman), spectrum of engagement (Annette Hill) and civic cultures (Peter Dahlgren). It provides a gendered perspective and social and cultural contexts in understanding the cognitive and affective engagement of the audience with a talk show and the practice of civic talk. The findings illustrate that the talk show does not only serve in informing young Indonesian women about the social and political issues, where they can get broader perspectives and judge the elites’ capability and truthfulness but also as entertainment, where they can mock them. The role of the host, Najwa Shihab, as a journalist and pundit, challenges the patriarchy in Indonesia in the way of scrutinizing the elites who are dominated by male. It affects the acquisition of knowledge and the generation of pleasurable enjoyment on the show. The reflection from the informants on the study over the subordination of Indonesian women brings them to praise Najwa’s existence as a liberated woman who is accepted in the public sphere. This also empowered them as citizens and led them to talk about the social and political issues raised on the show. The findings reveal the informants’ withdrawal from the public sphere in having civic talk due to the political and patriarchal contexts in Indonesia in which becomes the challenges for Indonesian democracy. However, their practice of civic talk is optimized in the intimate public spheres, with trusted people and spaces, that will nurture their critical thinking and participate in a deliberation.

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