Centre for Creative Media Research > Video Critical

The book version

You are looking at the online version of David Gauntlett's Video Critical study. For a more complete discussion and account of this project, see the book Video Critical: Children, the Environment and Media Power, by David Gauntlett, published by John Libbey Media in 1997.


Cover blurb:

In this follow-up to Moving Experiences (1995), David Gauntlett travels beyond the relatively straightforward questions about the possible direct effects of television on behaviour, to explore the contribution which television can make to viewer's understandings of the world. Arguing against the attempts of psychologists to explain complex social issues in individualistic terms, Video Critical seeks to take a more sophisticated journey towards an understanding of the place of media in the lives of children at the end of the twentieth century. Kicking off with a characteristically readable chapter on critical theory, the book battles with models of the child audience, and the failure of cultural studies to fully explain the way in which meanings are made, and argues that giving children themselves the opportunity to make their own media is the way into understanding the meanings which it holds for them.

Video Critical presents for the first time the findings of a new research method developed especially for this study, in which groups of Leeds schoolchildren were given video facilities in order that they could make their own video productions. Taking the environment as their focus, the videos suggest that the children's views of both environmental issues and the mass media are complex and contradictory. The children's work is also considered in relation to the aims of the producers of broadcast television programmes which involve environmental material, who were also interviewed for the study.

Clearly and engagingly written, Video Critical combines theory and original research in an important contribution to the understanding of children and the mass media.


"Interesting in method, analysis and theoretical conjecture... Anyone interested in audiences, children or video will find this a worthwhile read." -- European Journal of Communication, vol. 13, no. 2 (1998), pp. 284.

"Gauntlett provides an accessible introduction to... important matters of intergenerational responsibility and power... The research reports make fascinating reading. The children clearly enjoyed making their videos and some unusual and thought provoking things happened as the children got into relationships with all kinds of media, that give great examples of the children's own mediations of responsibility... This book would be useful to anyone studying childhood or the media." -- Sociological Review, vol. 46, no. 1 (1998), pp. 159-162.

"Extremely well written, clear and engaging... It is very well presented and clearly organised, with good summaries and 'signposts' which make the structure apparent throughout... The methodology is interesting, original and persuasively justified." -- David Buckingham, Institute of Education, University of London (1997)

"In an even-handed examination of how mass media forms the boundaries of environmental issues, David Gauntlett, with skill and clarity manoeuvres through potentially difficult and theory-laden 'critical theory',... examining the way television affects the way audiences frame the incredibly complicated and inter-penetrating social issues of environmental problems. Gauntlett is not so much interested in whether the mass media is culpable of intentionally ignoring or avoiding environmental issues. Instead he discovers through a creative study that children audiences have internalized environmental problems and their solutions in a one-dimensional 'narrative': the problem has been created by individuals and is to be then solved by individuals... Gauntlett's subtle, yet powerful analysis shows that the important "absent narrative" within television coverage of environmental issues is nothing as diabolical, cliched, or as simple as a conspiracy theory, but rather the normal outcome of the workings of modern industrial capitalism, corporate owned media, and thus an increasingly narrow ideological framework of acceptable media content. Gauntlett's work is on the money - so to speak. A worthwhile sidenote: anyone who can incorporate Horkheimer, Adorno, Marx, and Beavis and Butthead into a single chapter about mass media and society is a five-star book for that reason alone - enjoy!" -- Review by Vernon J Martin, Dept. of Philosophy, University of North Texas. February 19, 1999. Posted on Amazon.com.

ISBN 1 86020 513 5

The text and images on this site are by David Gauntlett, © 1997, 2004.
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