In their shoes? Categorizing identities and creating citizens in reality TV

Margriet Waal, van der, Rieke Böhling*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The so-called migration crisis in Europe is not only covered by serious informative genres such as news and documentaries, but has also been the topic of entertainment genres such as reality TV. This article focuses on two cases of European ‘refugee’ reality TV in which European participants embark on a ‘reversed’ refugee journey: from the Netherlands and Germany, respectively, to war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East. Despite the shows’ claims to fulfill an important function of educating the broader public about the hardship and plight experienced by refugees in Europe, the construction and conception of collective cultural identities in these shows warrants closer analysis. Through an interpretative textual analysis of the series, we investigate how civil belonging is mapped and constructed by the series as a range of different subject positions on refugees and civic responsibility toward refugees. This study problematizes the manner in which a plurality of voices is accommodated in contemporary European liberal democratic society and how cultural forms such as reality TV function normatively as a technology of citizenship
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14-Oct-2019


    • Cultural citizenship
    • docutainment
    • migration
    • reality television
    • Refugees

    Cite this