London Metropolitan University Research Institutes


The impact of the depiction of work in TV drama on young people's career aspirations & choices


  • Does watching The Apprentice, make you want to be hired or fired?
  • Is The Bill the best police recruitment strategy ever?
  • When you watch Ugly Betty do you want her job or Daniel Meades?

These are some of the questions we’re investigating in this British Academy funded study.

We are exploring the ways that young people make sense of the representations of work and workers in TV drama, how they use these to construct identities as future workers and how class, race and gender intersect with these processes. In particular we are interested in whether the characters and narratives of television drama can provide the kind of connection and knowledge necessary for young people to make non-traditional choices. We are collecting and analysing focus groups and individual interviews with 14- to 16-year -olds in three comprehensive schools - 1 in London, 1 in another urban area and 1 rural. As well as being focused on popular culture, we are taking a cultural studies approach to how people read TV texts and how they think of themselves. We see watching television an active process of interpretation, not simply a passive one of consumption. Similarly, we see identity as something we do (and are done by) rather than something we are.

For more information click on the links below:

Focus group schedule
Key findings from focus groups

Interview Schedule
Key findings from interviews

Funded by

the British Academy


September 2007 - June 2008


Project team

Heather Mendick

Katya Williams


Heather Mendick -

*Legal Notice and disclaimer: The images from The Apprentice, The Bill and Ugly Betty are protected by copyright. This website and any content contained in it are not specifically authorized by the owners of the copyright. This website is for educational use only and is freely available. The images on these pages are reproduced to complement the academic material. We will not distribute audio, video or image files.


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