Engaging with nostalgia: reception, social imaginaries, and young audiences
In this thesis, I analyse how young audiences engage with nostalgic media texts. In recent years, from remakes or reboots to media texts set in previous decades, nostalgia has become a key ingredient of recent media production. Hence, I address two specific research questions: 1) how do young audiences interpret the past represented in nostalgic media texts; and 2) how do the national context and social identities of young audiences mediate their engagement with nostalgic media texts? For this,
... I conducted a media consumption habits survey, 13 focus group discussions, and 35 paired interviews in one private and one public secondary education school in Costa Rica. My intention is to explore the reception of nostalgic media texts in a nation of the Global South in which the past has recently generated political and social tensions. Thus, I first argue that these young audiences interpret the past represented in nostalgic media texts through an aestheticisation of the past and by employing a particular nostalgic social imaginary. Following textual cues and national discourses, these young people idealise the styles of the past but exhibit a critical awareness in terms of some social tensions of previous decades. Then, I argue that nostalgia is a structure of feeling which emerges from an unsatisfying present. By exploring the social identities of the participants, I discuss how nostalgia is differently articulated depending on the social position of these young people. I identify how the students from the private school experience an aesthetic nostalgia, based on the romanticisation of the styles of the past but characterised by an optimistic appraisal of the future, and how the students from the public school experience a material nostalgia, an idealisation of the past derived from daily experiences of economic deprivation and the expectation of a precarious future.