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Toward an Interaction‐Centered Approach to Media Events: Mediated Public Intimacy on the Reality TV Show Big Brother


Journal of Communication

Published online on


Scholarship on media events has rarely considered how interpersonal interactions between participants mobilize collective feelings of solidarity. Drawing on a study of Big Brother Israel, we demonstrate how several structural‐interactional features of the show encourage viewers to shift from a position of bystanders to one of confidants and companions of the contestants. We analyze this shift through the lens of mediated “public intimacy”—the staging of exclusive interactions in front of a third party. The emergent sense of collective complicity affects everyday interactions between viewers and public discourse on social media. We conclude that beyond the public staging of self, it is the staging and concretization of social relations in media events that serves to reaffirm the collective's solidarity.