Toward an Interaction-Centered Approach to Media Events: Mediated Public Intimacy on the Reality TV Show Big Brother

Danny Kaplan, Yoni Kupper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Scholarship on media events has rarely considered how interpersonal interactions between participants mobilize collective feelings of solidarity. Drawing on a study of Big Brother Israel, we demonstrate how several structural-interactional features of the show encourage viewers to shift from a position of bystanders to one of confidants and companions of the contestants. We analyze this shift through the lens of mediated “public intimacy”—the staging of exclusive interactions in front of a third party. The emergent sense of collective complicity affects everyday interactions between viewers and public discourse on social media. We conclude that beyond the public staging of self, it is the staging and concretization of social relations in media events that serves to reaffirm the collective's solidarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)758-780
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Yaacov Yadgar, Paul Frosh, Oren Livio, and Oren Soffer for their valuable suggestions and advice during various stages of this work as well as our colleagues at the department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bar Ilan University for their feedback on this project and continued support. We also thank the editors of Journal of Communication, Silvio Waisbord and Yeidy Rivero, and the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading and constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper. A preliminary version of this study was presented at the annual meeting of the Israeli Sociological Meeting, Raanana, January 2017. The research was supported by the Hammer Scholarship of the Second Authority for Television and Radio.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 International Communication Association


  • Audience
  • Friendship
  • Media Event
  • Reality Television
  • Social Interaction
  • Solidarity


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