>> overview research
of soap operas in children's and adolescents' everyday
The phenomenon that children
not only watch children's programmes but are also extremely
fond of soap operas is well known, but the background has
hardly been researched at all. The specific significance of
this genre for adolescents and children has hitherto remained
open to a great extent. This is the starting point of an IZI
study to investigate the fact that children (6-9 years), pre-teenagers
(10-13 years) and adolescents (14-19 years) are fascinated
by German soap operas. ("Marienhof", "Verbotene Liebe",
"Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten", "Unter Uns")
Questions to guide the research
- How and for what purpose do children
and adolescents use the genre of the soap opera? What makes
this format so successful with children and adolescents?
- Does the reception of "adult soaps"
differ from the acquisition of the children's soap "Schloss
Einstein" (KI.KA ARD/ZDF) or the new format "Big
- How is the enthusiasm for soap operas
integrated into everyday life as far as content and aesthetics
- What do primary school children
do with such soap themes as sexuality, jobs or constant
crises in relationships?
- Which social forms are created around
soap operas and which functions do they take over?
A. Product analyses:
media analyses (main areas: themes and figures)
B. An open, qualitatively oriented
questionnaire and interview (N = 400; 50% face-to-face interviews
), Morning circle discussion (N
= about 120)
C. Video and photo recordings of children's
and young people's rooms (N =
D. Case studies of primary school children
E. Studies of soap fan clubs
From the point of view of media
education, one of the questions asked is to what extent
soap operas are suitable for children, or where support for
media education should begin. Connected to this is also the
question as to the characteristics of a more suitable programme
which would be of equal interest to the children.
From the point of view of gender
specifics, the potential and limits of the genre for viewers
to find their individual identity will be pointed out. In
addition to critical research into girls, here the initial
stages of a critical research into boys will also be included.
From the point of view of cultural
sociology, one of the questions involved is the extent
to which children's enthusiasm for soap operas might provide
indications of a kind of "loss of childhood" in selecting
The findings of the study are published,
for example, in TelevIZIon, issue 13/2000/2
Book publication (in German): Alles Seifenblasen?
Die Bedeutung von Daily Soaps
im Alltag von Kindern und Jugendlichen.
as pdf (34 KB)