Cracks in the glass ceiling?: laughter and politics in Broadcast News Interviews and the gendered nature of media representations
Romaniuk, Tanya Kristina
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"This dissertation investigates politicians' laughter in televised Broadcast News Interviews (BNIs) and mass media representations of Hillary Rodham Clinton's laughter in the context of her failed bid for the Democratic nomination in the United States in 2007-2008. The data for this study comprise spoken, interactional data (corpora of televised BNIs) and written, representational data (a corpus of media discourse)--distinct forms that require the use of different theoretical and methodological apparatus. The first component of the analysis employs the methodological framework of Conversation Analysis to examine the interactional work accomplished by Clinton's laughter and that of other politicians in situ, that is, in the BNIs themselves. The second component of the analysis employs an intertextual approach to analyze the post-hoc recontextualization of Clinton's laughter by the mainstream media as a gendered representation, namely, as a ""cackle"". In analyzing Clinton's laughter in talk-in-interaction and its subsequent representation in talk-out-of interaction, this study makes a distinctive contribution to a central question in studies of language, gender and sexuality-when gender can or should be invoked as an explanatory category in the analysis of discourse. The first two empirical chapters presents an interactional analysis of politicians' and Clinton's laughter in BNIs, and reveals how the previously undescribed practice of laughing in the course of ""serious"" interviewer questions, or at their completion, is not something that is unique to Clinton but is in fact a generic interactional practice. Further, this practice is not something that is oriented to as gendered by any of the participants in the news interviews analyzed. However, the intertextual analysis developed in the third empirical chapter suggests that this practice became gendered in post-hoc recontextualizations of those interactions, that is, in subsequent media representations- of Clinton's laughter. By considering the way Clinton's laughter travelled across contexts and into other discursive spaces, this dissertation shows how, despite women and men behaving in similar (non-gendered) ways, Clinton's behaviour was taken up in gendered (arguably, misogynist) ways. As a result, this dissertation gives empirical substance to claims about the ""double-bind"" situation that women politicians still face in the public sphere of politics."