UNDER RECONSTRUCTION -- Our new beautifully-designed, fully responsive site will soon be unveiled...

The Poverty of Television

The Mediation of Suffering in Class-Divided Philippines

Jonathan Corpus Ong

The Poverty of Television

The first book to take an ethnographic approach in the study of distant suffering and the media

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783087006
April 2017 | 226 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
PRICE:  £25.00  /  $40.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

'Ong brilliantly demonstrates that one need not succumb to cynicism to offer powerful cultural critique.' — Toussaint Nothias, ‘Journal of Communication’ 

‘Ong’s bottom-up approach […] opens new horizons for understanding the role(s) of the media in facilitating moral and social processes. These important insights make a significant and compelling contribution to the field.’ —Tal Morse, ‘International Journal of Communication’

‘This is the first scholarly book on Philippine television. Ong goes to the core of the issue – the cultural politics of news and entertainment, the lifeline of poverty of and in Philippine television. Ethnographic and political economic, the morality of media and development are critically engaged in this book.’ —Roland B. Tolentino, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication

‘This is a profound, path-breaking, and brave study of the portrayal of poverty and suffering in television. Marshalling solid ethnographic data, it shows how the class position of television audiences inflects their moral stance vis-à-vis mediated suffering. Ong compels readers in the Philippines and beyond to reflect on their own moral frame regarding this haunting, if seldom confronted, question.’ —Filomeno V. Aguilar Jr, Ateneo de Manila University

Based on an extensive ethnographic study of television and audiences in class-divided Philippines, this is the first book to take a bottom-up approach in considering how people respond to images and narratives of suffering and poverty on television. Arguing for an anthropological ethics of media, this book challenges existing work in media studies and sociology that focuses solely on textual analysis and philosophical approaches to the question of representing vulnerable others. Current questions in media ethics, such as whether to portray sufferers as humane and empowered individuals or show them ‘at their worst’ have so far used textual and visual analyses to convey the researcher’s own moral position on the matter. In contrast, this book, inspired by the anthropology of moralities, accounts for the different interpretations and moral positions of audiences, who are positioned in various degrees of social and moral proximity to those they see and hear on television. Winner of the 2016 Philippine Social Science Council Excellence in Research Award.

Readership: This study will be of interest to scholars and students in media and cultural studies, sociology, anthropology and Southeast Asian area studies.

Author Information

Jonathan Corpus Ong is a lecturer in the Department of Media and Communication at the University of Leicester.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: The Poverty of Television; 1. The Moral Turn: From First Principles to Lay Moralities; 2. Theorizing Mediated Suffering: Ethics of Media Texts, Audiences and Ecologies; 3. Audience Ethics: Mediating Suffering in Everyday Life; 4. Entertainment: Playing with Pity; 5. News: Recognizing Calls to Action; Conclusions: Mediating Suffering, Dividing Class; Appendix; Notes; References; Index