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The Portrayal of Families across Generations in Disney Animated Films

Jessica D. Zurcher (), Sarah M. Webb () and Tom Robinson ()
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Jessica D. Zurcher: School of Communications, Brigham Young University, Brimhall Building, #360, Provo, UT 84604, USA
Sarah M. Webb: School of Communications, Brigham Young University, Brimhall Building, #360, Provo, UT 84604, USA
Tom Robinson: School of Communications, Brigham Young University, Brimhall Building, #360, Provo, UT 84604, USA

Social Sciences, 2018, vol. 7, issue 3, 1-16

Abstract: Disney animated films continue to serve as an influential form of media that shapes children’s development of beliefs about the world surrounding them, including the construct of the family. However, a census analysis as to how Disney animated films represent depictions of families has yet to be conducted. To fill this gap, we assessed the qualities of family demographics, structure, and function in a census analysis of 85 Disney animated films from the years 1937–2018. Results indicated that single parent families (41.3%) was the most predominantly represented family structure, followed by nuclear (25%) and guardian (19.2%). We also observed that the first depiction of a non-Caucasian family was presented in the 1990s, with a growing number of ethnically diverse families since that time. However, minimal interactions between families of differing ethnicities are noted. Overall, over 75% of all Disney animated films depicted warm and supportive familial interactions, with 78.8% of the films illustrating a positive relationship between the protagonist and his/her family. Analysis and implications are offered for parents and educators who wish to further understand the content Disney animated films offer in depicting families.

Keywords: content analysis; cultivation; Disney; family; family structure; family function (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A B N P Y80 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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