Popular Pedagogy in Canadian Television: A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Trailer Park Boys
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This major research paper studied the representations of masculinity in the Canadian television program Trailer Park Boys from the perspective of public pedagogy and education. Motivated by a desire to expose how patriarchal discourses are learned through everyday practices and texts, a methodology of feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was formulated. Trailer Park Boys is a long-running mockumentary series set in a fictional trailer park near Halifax, Nova Scotia. It focuses on a cast of male characters with exaggerated personalities, and is satirical in tone. Prior to the main analysis of this paper, a collection of relevant literature was conducted and an opportunity to address a lack of gender-focused studies of Canadian television, including Trailer Park Boys, was noted. This study used the feminist CDA method to analyze what masculinities were reinforced as normal or abnormal in Seasons 3 and 9 of the program, based on the understanding that popular culture is a site of everyday learning. After the data was collected episode-by-episode, it became apparent that the themes of family, authority, and sexuality were helpful in understanding what relationship Trailer Park Boys had with traditional representations of heteronormative masculinity. It was found that despite the presence of some non-traditional forms of masculinity, the show ultimately reproduced stereotypical, and often harmful, discourses of masculinity. A final explanation of the connection between the results of the study and Canadian pedagogy and everyday learning was offered, and directions for future research were identified.