Do critical viewers learn from television?

Ava Laure Parsemain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What does it mean to be 'critical' as a television viewer? How does it influence what we learn and how we learn from television? Although analytical and critical media literacy skills are necessary in order to learn from the media, audience studies suggest that being critical can hinder learning, especially when it involves cynicism, scepticism and distrust of the content. In this article, I explore this contradiction to determine whether being critical facilitates or impedes televisual learning. Based on two focus group discussions conducted with viewers, I argue that there are two ways to be critical when watching television: critical viewing is a form of intellectual distance that is incompatible with learning whereas critical involvement is a form of intellectual proximity with the televisual text that facilitates learning through critical thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-93
Number of pages23
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • television
  • informal learning
  • critical media literacy
  • critical viewing
  • referential viewing
  • soap opera
  • Home and Away


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