Religious Sisterhood Among Female Audience of Da-Ai Dramas

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:50 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Pei-Ru LIAO , Center for General Education, NPUST, Pingtung, Taiwan
The purpose of this paper is to examine the way in which the audience respond to prime-time dramas broadcast on a widely watched religious channel (and another commercial TV network), owned by one of the largest Buddhist civil organisations in contemporary Taiwan—Tzu-Chi Organisation. Tzu-Chi started as a humble civil foundation with a dozen of lay female followers and a few Bikkhunis that offers charity-based services in the late 1970s. Within half a century, it has grown into a huge religious “conglomerate” which owns subsidiaries across charity services, education institutions, medical centres, media industry, and so on. Among its various types of multimedia platforms, the success of its TV network (Da-Ai TV) draws attention from one of the largest commercial TV network (CTI TV) and started to broadcast the Da-Ai’s prime-time drama (also known as Da-Ai Drama) series on both networks from Jan, 2013. As Tzu-Chi has increasing visibility and influence in a competitive TV market in Taiwan, this paper aims to explore the way in which the prime-time dramas are watched and interpreted among followers and non-followers. The researcher have conducted in-depth interviews on 13 female audience who have been watching prime-time dramas on Da-Ai TV for more than six months. The research findings demonstrate that the audience focuses on the edu-entertainment purposes when choosing to watch Da-Ai TV because a) watching these dramas is seen as an easier alternative to acquire sophisticated Buddhist doctrines, and to practice them in everyday life; b) discussing these dramas with female colleagues or friends can be educational and encouraging, and, thus, helps to form horizontal ties among female audience.