Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Media Studies


Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Michael O'Shaughnessy


This thesis seeks to examine the discursive construction of the public. Unlike studies before it, it explores a site that has yet to be analysed in depth- the public service advertisement. While the characteristics of this genre are understood in cultural common sense, what has been neglected is a consideration of how these advertisements can be understood to address an entity that is amorphous and unknowable. This study argues that such an address is only possible in this genre through the discourse of childhood. By employing an interdisciplinary approach that includes cultural and-media studies, political theory and sociology, the history of the 'public' and the history of 'childhood' are explored as a means to understanding how and why they are evoked through sites such as the public service advertisement. The implications of these strategies is what drives this dissertation and is what situates it as a contribution to the continued debates surrounding the media and notions of the public sphere.