Analyzing Portrayals of Modern Women and Popular Culture in Television Soap Operas of Pakistan
*Correspondence to: Jyoti Mehra, School of Art, Design and Media Studies (SADMS), Block No. 2, Plot No. 32–34, Knowledge Park III, Sharda University, Greater Noida, 201 306, Uttar Pradesh, India
Media convergence has phenomenally transformed Indian television audience's soap opera viewing experience by offering digital exposure to diversified content. The paper presents an exploratory study, analyzing Indian viewers’ reception of the dramatized portrayals of modern women and popular culture in television soap operas of Pakistan. The study finds reasons for Pakistan's soap operas’ popularity and registers Indian readers’ guided interpretations of polysemic televised projections of women and culture. Triangulation methodology is employed including questionnaire, telephonic interviews, and participatory observations. Discourse analysis of celebrated soap opera ‘Humsafar ’ detected a research problem that women participate in reinforcing misogynic value systems with rigidly dichotomized and objectified roles, treated with an androcentric gaze. The paper introduces “altagonist”as a hybrid character category that negotiates between the bipolar roles. The study concludes that dramatized representations of Pakistani women are at the crossroads of east-west cultures, struggling with patriarchy, expanding their gender capacities, and initiating behavior change. The research paper holds crucial relevance in the Indian subcontinent to re-open an academic doorway for participatory communication on television soap operas as integral units of South Asian Popular Culture.
Audience reception, digital media consumption, gender discourse, Pakistani television drama, South Asia, popular culture, TV soap operas.