This thesis is a study of serial viewing among women in middle-families in two Indian cities carried out in 2007. It explores women’s engagement with a new brand of serial narratives that centralizes the traditional Hindu joint family and places women at the centre of the family as nurturer and custodian of traditional values.
This return to the traditional, the thesis proposes, marks a new conjunctural moment in the evolution of Indian television. This new conjunctural moment, characterized by competitive attempts among private and transnational cable and satellite television to Indianize content, the unprecedented growth of vernacular television and consequently the national circulation of traditionally inflected serials, has come to represent the feminisation of television in India.
The manner in which differentially located women engage with these narratives of idealized family and womanhood suggests certain specific gendered ways in which television mediates women’s discursive access to and performance within both family and civic space.
This thesis argues that the feminisation of television in India helps extend the ideal of a familial womanhood on to the civic space, limiting women’s access to alternative, oppositional forms of civic belonging and citizenship.