Governmentality and performance Reassessing Reality TV

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapter


This chapter engages with a particular reality TV format, the popular UK ‘business pitch’ program Dragons’ Den, to reconsider the role played by television in contributing to contemporary social politics, and the affinities between the realisms of neo-liberalism’s ontological politics and reality TV respectively. In many respects, Dragons’ Den, a program that quite overtly constructs a scenario wherein contestants are required to perform, and be judged, in relation to the degree to which they can perform as ideal entrepreneurial subjects, appears to readily ‘fit’ an approach that treats reality TV as a performative mode of governmentality. Indeed, on the basis of a textual analysis of the program, and in particular the economy of normative judgment around which it is structured, I argue that it can plausibly be read as a neo-liberal technology of government. However, the question of whether this technology is effective or not is another matter, and I turn later in the chapter to consider the implications of Skeggs and Wood’s (2012) argument for re-assessing governmentality and its relevance to considering the role played by media in contemporary sociopolitical relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHow We Are Governed
EditorsPhilip Dearman, Cathy Greenfield
Place of PublicationNewscastle-upon-Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)9781443854061
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Governmentality and performance Reassessing Reality TV'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this