Radio and the Hansen Family. National Identity in an Everyday Perspective
On October 1st 1949, the last episode of Denmark’s favourite radio serial The Hansen Family (tHF) was broadcast. By then it had become something of an institution within the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DBC), boasting 20 years of airplay, over 900 episodes and several spin-off products. However, the serial has been afforded a surprisingly small role in the history of Danish radio and thus remains largely forgotten today. Therefore this Ph.D. project aims to unearth tHF, pointing to its relevance in the development of the serial format as well as in early discussions of Danish public service radio, but most of all reading it as a source for understanding how the radio medium has contributed to an ongoing negotiation of national identity. To develop an understanding of the concept of national identity and its relationship to public service, the research will go into the field of nationalism theory. The key concepts so far are Michael Billig’s “banal nationalism” (1995) and Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities” (1983), which will hopefully shed some light on the power of repetition (seriality) in the communication of nationalist content, as well as on the feeling of national coherence that helped turn the serial into a success. Finally, as all of the above is deeply embedded in a discussion of public service, this concept will become central throughout. While all the tHF manuscripts have been kept, only two episodes remain as sound recordings, which has some implications for the methodology. Hence, tHF will be approached in the following stages: 1) A thorough parallel analysis of the available recordings and their manuscripts in an attempt to identify what the medium added to the drama text; 2) A content analysis of 10 consecutive manuscripts every five years, focusing on preselected themes and current events at the time; 3) A context analysis placing tHF in a larger historical setting by looking into tHF merchandise, internal documents from the DBC, media clippings etc. Leaving the specifics of tHF aside, this project is also about how a national medium provided its audience with a sense of continuity in a period of great upheaval such as the Depression, World War II and the immediate post-war years.