The impact of commercial global television on cultural change and identity formation.

HAMASAEED, N, H., 2011. The impact of commercial global television On cultural change and Identity Formation.The impact of commercial global television On cultural change and Identity Formation. A Study of Kurdish Women and the Turkish Soap Opera Noor


Nazakat Hussain Hamasaeed


Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
School of Computing, Informatics and Media
Bradford Media School, University of Bradford


This thesis aimed to report on the qualitative research conducted which identified the role played by international television soap operas in identity formation and cultural change in relation to Kurdish women. Currently, Kurdish women live in a cultural context where traditional values often conflict with modern values when it comes to behaviour deemed appropriate for their gender. Through the impact of international television soap operas, Kurdish women come to identify themselves as being “traditional” while at the same time they attempt to integrate non-traditional beliefs into their value system. This study looked at the relationship between Kurdish women’s exposure to international television, soap operas and consumerism, as well as the problems which they create in terms of non-Western women’s identity formation. This thesis has documented the lives and experiences of 21 female Kurdish participants, aged between 18 and 40, through in-depth interviews and observations.


The thesis assumes that the views recorded are representative of the general viewpoint of viewers of the international soaps. Open-ended, in-depth interviews about women were used to explore viewing habits and preferences for various soaps. This thesis incorporates and expresses the ideas which were recorded with regards to the accepted “typical” characteristics of men and women – it is these characteristics which play an important role in selfformation. It became evident that these women had incorporated values from the traditional Kurdish culture and the modern way of life. The Kurdish women cannot be said to have a “modernist” outlook on gender-appropriate behaviour, as they are still endemically entrenched in traditional Kurdistan worldviews.


The qualitative research analysed the level in which the soap operas act as a kind of medium between the values of modernity and those of tradition. This study, in addition, demonstrates the appeal that soap operas can have on the norms, and other aspects, in the Kurdistan Region, and therefore illustrates that the soaps have an active role as a mechanism of change in Kurdistan. Thus, the research demonstrates the power of the soap operas and their effects on the Kurdish people in this region. Furthermore, this research explored the current media environment in the Kurdistan Region by reviewing the dependency of Kurdish viewers, and the Kurdish television channels, on foreign and imported television programmes into the region.