Marc de Hond ( and Ange Wieberdink from the organization Heroes & Victims ( initiated an idea for a study to investigate the representation of disability on Dutch television. According to previous research, people with disabilities are underrepresented and subjected to misrepresentation in different media (e.g. Ciot & Van Hove, 2010; Briant, Watson & Philo, 2013; Devotta, Wilton & Yiannakoulias, 2013). Since 2016, more attention is paid to, among others, the media representation of people with a disability in the Netherlands due to the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The question remains, however, if disabled people are respresented, and if so, how they are represented. The way of representation is important as according to Krijnen & Van Bauwel (2015) negative media representations have consequences for the self-identity and social identity of people with (and without) a disability. However, it is said that non-fictional content provides more authoritative exemplars than fictional content (Slater, 1990). Therefore, this study focuses on the non-fictional genre of serious talk show to investigated if and how disabled people are represented in Dutch television. In total, a number of 1010 talk show episodes were checked to determine whether they included a person with a disability. Using quantitative measurements, it was estimated that people with a disability were present in a total of 56 episodes. Subsequently, these 56 episodes were analyzed using a qualitative research method called critical discourse analysis. The analysis provided evidence for five existing discourses: sport and disability, media products and disability, (means of) support and disability, tragic stories and disability, and mental disability. In addition, the analysis provided the researcher with multiple cases in which people with a disability were randomly represented, without any emphasis being put on the disability of the guest or disabilities in general. To conclude, this research focused on how often and in what ways people with a disability were represented in Dutch talk shows over the last ten years. Based on the findings, it can be stated that people with a disability are not often represented in talk shows, and that role-diversity is very limited when they are. However, the results also show that the discourse surrounding disability is less negative than, based on previous research, could be expected.

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I. Awad
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

L. van Slageren. (2019, June 27). (Re)presenting disability: A research focusing on the representation of people with a disability in Dutch talk shows over the last ten years.. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from