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ÖGS Award for Doctoral Thesis

Doctoral Thesis of Media and Childhood Studies Expert Astrid Ebner-Zarl Honoured with Award

Astrid Ebner-Zarl

Astrid Ebner-Zarl from the Media Business research group of the Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies at the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences received the “Nachwuchspreis für herausragende soziologische Dissertationen” (award for excellent doctoral theses in sociology) of the Austrian Association for Sociology (ÖGS).

The thesis of Ebner-Zarl addresses the blurring of the boundaries of childhood in a media-dominated society and the role of children between the promotion of talent, pressure to perform, and commercial interests.

Theory of the “Lost Childhood”

The doctoral thesis titled “Die Entgrenzung von Kindheit in der Mediengesellschaft“ (the blurred boundaries of childhood in a society shaped by the media) by Ebner-Zarl examines the theory of the “lost childhood” and the perception that the boundaries between childhood, adolescence and adulthood have become increasingly fragile due to presentation in the media as well as media use, commercial activities, and pressure to perform.

The theory of the “lost childhood” is a popular and much-discussed one – in the media, the scientific discourse, and in the perception of society in general. It refers to the “blurring of the boundaries” of childhood, which describes the perception that the borders between childhood, adolescence and adulthood have become increasingly fragile or have experienced a marked shift.

New Overview Work of Contemporary Childhood Sociology

What was previously missing, however, was a theory that systematically documents this blurring of the boundaries of childhood – a gap that Ebner-Zarl’s book helps to close. “In our contemporary society of the 21st century, childhood and being a child are strongly characterised by mediatisation, commercialisation, and a deep integration into a performance-oriented society, at least in Western Europe and the USA. And the lives of today’s adults are shaped by the same trends”, explains Ebner-Zarl.

On almost 800 pages, the author gathers the scattered individual results from literature concerning the reality of childhood in the past and present, combines them with theoretical concepts of interdisciplinary childhood research, and complements them with her own empirical analysis of two casting shows for children. The outcome is a comprehensive overview work of contemporary childhood sociology.

Analysis of Casting Shows

Ebner-Zarl provides an empirical analysis of childhood images as portrayed in the casting shows “The Voice Kids” and “Kiddy Contest”. To this end, the researcher further developed evaluation techniques for audiovisual material and brought together methods from social and film studies.

“I warmly congratulate Astrid Ebner-Zarl on this well-deserved honour. Our institute is proud to have such a talented and excellent researcher who has a keen eye for such important and interesting societal topics”, praises Wolfgang Aigner, Head of the Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies at the St. Pölten UAS.

Ebner-Zarl studied Media Management at the St. Pölten UAS and Sociology at the Johannes Kepler University Link (JKU). At the latter, she also completed her PhD studies in Social Sciences, Economics & Business.

The award ceremony took place as part of the ÖGS’ General Assembly.

Astrid Ebner-Zarl’s book is published by Springer:

Die Entgrenzung von Kindheit in der Mediengesellschaft. Kinder zwischen Talentförderung, Leistungsdruck und wirtschaftlichen Interessen

Astrid Ebner-Zarl, 1st edition 2021, XXVII, 782 pages, 6 illustrations, ISBN 978-3-658-31971-7

Soft cover: EUR 64.99 (D) | EUR 66.81 (A) | CHF 72.00

eBook: EUR 49.99 (D) | EUR 49.99 (A) | CHF 57.50

You want to know more? Feel free to ask!
Mag. (FH) Mag. Dr. Ebner-Zarl Astrid

Mag. (FH) Mag. Dr. Astrid Ebner-Zarl

Media Business Research Group
Institute of Creative\Media/Technologies
Department of Media and Digital Technologies