Out of the shadow, into the light: Exploring the male audience of American daytime soaps through case studies of "Guiding Light" online communities

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English



Chief Instructor

Heather L. Roberts


This thesis aims at bringing the long-neglected male audience of daytime soap operas to the focus of scholarly attention. After a brief history of the soap genre and a review of previous research done on soap audiences in the fields of mass communication, cultural and gender studies, the core of the thesis consists of three case studies of male participants in Guiding Light online communities. Findings suggest that male soap viewers value (generic) realism and that, for some men, long-term soap watching entails a nostalgic pleasure. Moreover, they indicate the great diversity of the soap audience and a range of sub-audiences stretching across gender boundaries, as other factors, such as age, appear more important in differentiating subgroups. Overall, the findings support theories of active viewers and uses and gratifications approaches. Implications for studies in masculinities are discussed in the context of the dynamic interrelationship between gender, genre and social change.