A Home Away from Home: Mediating Parentcraft and Domestic Space in a Reality TV Parenting Program

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The House of Tiny Tearaways (HTT) first appeared on British television in May 2005. Over a six-day period, three families are invited to reside in a specially designed house together with a resident clinical psychologist. The house is to be “a home away from home” for the resident families. The analysis presented in this article focuses on the mediation of domestic spaces and familial technologies and the work of governmentalizing parenting (i.e. the conduct of parental conduct) through discursive and spatial practices. The article draws upon mediated discourse analysis and conversation analysis in order to analyze excerpts from the program and to explore how the affordances and constraints of the specially designed house—its architecture and spatial configuration, as well as the surveillance technology embedded within its walls—are assembled within particular familial activities, and how the relationships between family members are reshaped as a result. The analysis focuses on several key phenomena: 1) practices of video observation in relation to the domestic sphere; 2) use of inscription devices, such as video displays, to capture and visualize behavior and action in the “home;” 3) practicing “techniques” of parentcraft in place; and 4) doing “becoming” the proper object of family therapy or counseling in a simulated “home” laboratory. I conclude that the HTT house is a domesticated laboratory, both for (re)producing problem behaviors and communicative troubles, and for affording participants opportunities to mediate action in new ways.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHome Cultures
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)141-166
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • media research
  • discourse studies
  • conversation analysis
  • reality television
  • parenting competencies
  • surveillance
  • video micro analysis
  • domestic sphere
  • space
  • home


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