Research Project

>> overview Television characters

The Importance of Television Characters for Children (2003-2007)

The goal of this project is to figure out which TV characters are of specific importance in identity-building of 9 to 11 year-olds. A specific emphasis is laid upon the formation of gender. The project is made up of several sub-studies.

A. The range of characters on offer in children's television

The typical characteristics of television characters have been studied through media analysis. In a qualitative study ninety television characters of German children's TV are examined. The leading research question: How do the protagonists of the shows deal with their approaching and surrounding conflicts? The identified attributes of the types of children's TV heroes are then analysed.
(Conduction of study done by the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television; supervision: Dr. Maya Götz; project management: Katrin Brunner, Ralf Schauer)

Adding on to the qualitative analysis, hypotheses of the typical gender traits of the heroes have been formed by means of a programme sampling (2003) and the content will be critically evaluated in a quantitative study.
(Conduction of study done by The University of Kassel, Germany; supervision: Prof. Ben Bachmair; project management: Clemens Lambrecht)

The cultural differences of TV characters' classic gender traits will be quantitatively analysed on the basis of the content of a pre-selected random sampling of the Prix Jeunesse International (1990-2002).
(Conduction of study done by the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television; supervision: Prof. Hans-Peter Brosius; project management: Nicole Zenner)

B. Boys' and Girls' favourite characters

The favourite TV character of boys and girls often obtains a special meaning in the lives of the children. Yet what do these favourite characters look like? Which types of characters do boys and girls look for in television and what do they find? In this study, the life worlds of 40 boys and 40 girls between the ages of nine and eleven have been analysed throughout Germany. The goal of the study: to identify the relevant themes and favourite characters of boys and girls in their late childhood years and to analyse the meaning of these to the identity formation of the children.
Following this, the meaning of the favourite characters in terms of their gender identities will be evaluated through the backdrop of gender-reflecting pedagogy. The goal is to work out the problems and odds of these television characters.

C. The value of favourite characters

From the qualitative analysis, quantitative items will be derived that will demonstrate the value of television characters in children's everyday lives. In four sequences between 2005 and 2007, circa 2500 6- to 12-year-olds will be interviewed, regarding their favourite character and his/her meaning in their lives. (Prepared by Iconkids & Youth)

First presentation of the results took place at the IZI Conference in 2007.