Today I have been on a dissertation evaluating the work entitled “Understanding the experience of watching a film: entertainment, meanings and emotions” of the PhD Candidate Ana G. Hernández López, whose supervisor has been the Professor Jordi López Sintas of Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I want to highlight three points:

  • The PhD Candidate has been developed a research based on symbolic interactionism, descriptive phenology and social phenology. It’s a good opportunity to see the differences between them from real data.
  • It is the first dissertation, which I evaluate, where the PhD Candidate uses mainly qualitative data based methods. It allowed me to evaluate the dissertation from a new perspective.
  • It is the first dissertation, which I evaluate, structured in three papers. In my opinion, it’s the future of any dissertation.


The purpose or this research is to describe the complexity of the experience of watching films from the individual’s perspective. To do this task, the PhD candidate did a research framed in the interpretive tradition through three qualitative studies based on the narratives of a group of individuals. She develop three key aspects that help her to understand the experience of watching films: 1) as individual experience in the movie theater; 2) as experience that produces meanings in different technological contexts; and 3) as social experience that individuals learn in order to feel the appropriate emotions.

The results of our first study suggest that the experience of watching a film when it occurs in the movie theater is interpreted as a leisure activity, while at home is perceived as a recuperative activity. Due the symbolic properties of the spaces that are allocated by individuals, the experience in the movie theater and the experience at home produce different meanings. In other words, the meanings of the experience of watching films as leisure practice depend and vary according to the context in which they occur.

In the second study, she describes the structural dimensions of individual experience in the movie theater. She finds that what individuals called the magic of film, is created during the experience when the individual perceives that is disconnected from their routine, transported in time through an emotional travel, which is co-produced with other individuals and produce shared meanings. Also, watching a film in the movie theater is a social experience that is interpreted according to the sociocultural context in which it occurs.

Finally, in the third study the PhD candidate provides a phenomenological structure about the social construction of emotions watching films, which is constituted by temporal, social and interactional processes. According to this phenomenological structure emotions are learned and produced, also individuals co-produce meanings and share emotions, individuals’ emotional response are produced depending on the status of the individual. Thus, the individual may emotionally respond to films and enjoy their experience.