Affect, Curiosity, and Positionality in Context: Watching Television Entertainment in Argentina and the United States

María Celeste Wagner, Pablo J. Boczkowski, Eugenia Mitchelstein


Reception studies scholars have recently argued that there is a dearth of evidence on contemporary television audience practices and interpretations. To help fill this void, we ask: How do audiences in the Global South and North choose, experience, interpret, and affectively respond to the entertainment they choose to watch? We draw on semistructured interviews conducted in Argentina (N = 30) and the United States (N = 30). Our analysis indicates that there are three main dimensions that describe the experience of watching entertainment today: the search for emotional self-preservation, the fulfillment of intellectual curiosity, and an exploration of subjective positionality. Though we show that there is a combination of commonalities between the audiences in both countries in these dimensions, we observe and conclude by highlighting issues of variance—both context and identity based—in the ways in which each one of these dimensions are situationally enacted. We conceptualize the variance in each one of these dimensions as related to objects of escapism, geographic orientation of content selection, and representation and identity, respectively.


audience reception studies, television entertainment, comparative analysis, interviews, Argentina, United States

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