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Video Cultures: Television

Denise D Bielby, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
C Lee Harrington, Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA
2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The sociological study of television has not kept pace with the new media environments that have developed from emerging
digital-interactive technologies. As a result, sociologys theoretical approaches to understanding the cultures of television
production, distribution, and consumption lag in their ability to account for the transformations that have taken place. To
address this gap we discuss foundational work and recent developments on topics that are central to the study of television
media technologies and social life, audiences, production, and globalization. For each, we draw upon research from the elds
of communication and media that are relevant to sociological concerns alongside scholarship by sociologists to understand
the video cultures of contemporary television.

Television was introduced as an experimental technology in the
1920s and 1930s in Europe, Asia, the former Soviet Union, and
the Americas, and following the Second World War it rapidly
became a widely accepted form of mass communication
around the globe under a variety of national regulatory
arrangements. Among early postwar adopters were France, who
kept the production, distribution and broadcasting of television programs as a state monopoly in 1945; England, as
a subsidized public service in 1946; the United States, as
a commercial medium in 1948; Canada, as national system in
1952; Japan, in 1953; as dual public and commercial networks;
and Australia, as a free and governmentally regulated broadcast
service in 1956. Although televisions long-term business
cycle its innovation and diffusion as a novel technology,
establishment and system growth as a communications
industry, maturation and popularity, and specialization and
diversication took decades to unfold (Cunningham, 2000),
its widespread adoption as an important source of news,
information, and entertainment quickly led to a multifaceted
approach to its study. Initially, scholarly analysis focused on
television in several denitive ways as a cultural form, an
industry, a technology, and as a medium shaped by national
policy and this eventually expanded to encompass its study as
a global inuence and its audience(s). Early attention by social
scientists, especially among those in the United states, brought
focus to this comprehensive vision by paying particular attention to televisions social impact (see, for example, Bogart,
1956). (Bogart (1956) covered televisions history, appeal,
content, and consumption, effect on other media, relationship
with advertisers, and inuence on politics and youth.)
However, as Grindstaff and Turow (2006) have observed,
since the 1950s, sociologys dominant conceptual approaches
to the study of television have fallen short in two key ways. One
is their inability to account for video cultures the new media
environments that develop from the continually emerging sets
of multifaceted digital-interactive technologies (p. 103) that
have grown around contemporary televisions production,
distribution, and consumption. The other is the inadequacy of
sociologys theoretical approaches to the study of television
the political economy perspective that largely attends to


issues of power at a macrolevel along with how ownership

and control of television and the organization of television
production practices shape and inuence content, and the
cultural perspective that focuses more on the expressive and
symbolic dimensions of television programming and
reception to keep up with the industrys transformation. As
Grindstaff and Turow (2006) observe, contemporary changes
in the medium threaten to make past research on television
appear quaint and anachronistic (p. 103), but this theoretical
lag should challenge scholars to nd ways to draw from
enduring perspectives from the older work and assess how they
apply to the new-media environment (p. 103).
In this article we consider the issues raised by Grindstaff
and Turows (2006) thoughtful assessment of television sociology. We agree that there is a need to update existing theoretical approaches for capturing televisions newer
formulations, especially televisions more extensive global
presence on the one hand and its deeper penetration of
everyday social life on the other. Over two decades ago, media
scholar George Gerbner (1993) observed that Mass media,
particularly television, form the common mainstream of
contemporary culture. They present a steady, repetitive, and
compelling system of images. For the rst time in human
history, most of the stories are told to most of the children not
by their parents, their schools, or their church but by a group of
distant corporations with something to sell (p. 207). This was
echoed nearly a decade later when leading media sociologist
Todd Gitlin stated that the obvious but hard-to-grasp truth is
that living with the media is today one of the main things
Americans and many other human beings do (2001: p. 5).
More recently, this fact was underscored when leading
communications scholar Sonia Livingstone challenged
colleagues, in her 2008 presidential address to the International Communication Association, to more thoughtfully
probe how the media mediate everything, entering into and
shaping the mundane yet signicant relations among individuals and between individuals and society (2009: p. xi).
(In posing this challenge, Livingstone drew the distinction
between mediation, in which the mass media comprise one of
many inuential but independent institutions whose relations
with the media can be usefully analyzed and mediatization,
which implies that that all inuential institutions in

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Volume 25


Video Cultures: Television

society have themselves been transformed, reconstituted by

contemporary processes of mediation (2009: p. 2). While
mediatization the subordination of important social institutions to the media remains an open question, mediation
does not.) In short, with media now so unquestionably ubiquitous and so widely recognized as permeating every facet of
social life, sociology is at a crucial juncture if it is to remain
relevant as a contributor to the study of media in general and to
the eld of television, in particular.
To this end, we discuss foundational work and recent
developments on topics that are central to the study of
television media technologies and social life, audiences,
production, and globalization. For each, we draw upon
research from the elds of communication and media that are
relevant to sociological concerns alongside scholarship by
sociologists to understand the video cultures of todays

Media Technologies and Social Life

Televisions initial cultural setting was the household.
Although there is scattered early ethnographic work about its
presence in extensions of the domestic sphere such as taverns,
hotels, and hospitals (e.g., May, 1999), televisions ambience
was more thoroughly conceptualized when Anna McCarthy
(2001) examined the personal uses of television in public
spaces that included airports, train stations, retail outlets, and
the like, outside the home. McCarthys research enabled
scholars to focus comparatively on the ways in which the
medium interacted with its setting, and how that interplay
shaped its use by viewers. McCarthys conceptualization built
upon the important scholarship by Lynn Spigel (1992) on
televisions contribution to the evolution of the postSecond
World War (WWII) domestic sphere. Spigels (1992) work
demonstrated how the publics adoption of television as
a domestic medium was inuenced not just by the quest for
audiences by large corporations, but also and equally importantly by the subjective responses to the technology by
housewives of the 1950s whose then-prescribed social
responsibility as homemakers made them gatekeepers of that
domain. It was the response of housewives who ultimately
shaped not only televisions acceptability as a presence in the
domestic realm, but equally importantly its cultural form,
because in order for family gatekeepers to nd the medium
acceptable, its content had to be seen as relatable. (The
marketing of the Princess telephone by Bell Telephone
(Lupton, 1993) and of the cell phone by Nokia (Djelic and
Ainamo, 2005) are other examples of how technological
innovation, in order to become widely adopted, had to be
subordinated to the cultural expectations of potential users
before they could become instruments of sociable interaction.)
A consequence of the research on televisions early adoption
spawned the important line of scholarship on audiences, which
we discuss below. However, it is rst necessary to address the
signicance of how recent new technologies of distribution that
include the secondary marketing of series on digital video disk
(DVD) (and in the older physical format of videotape), TV
subscription outlets like video-on-demand (VOD) and payper-view, and streaming over the Internet through other so-


called over the top electronic services such as Netix and

Hulu have transformed access to the medium and are creating
new forms of consumption. These forms of a la carte access
were presciently anticipated by W. Russell Neuman in The
Future of the Mass Audience (1991), in which he wrote of the
future fragmentation of the mass audience and its fallout, niche
programming. This (r)evolution in access is highly socially
signicant because it has implications for how we organize as
a society around access, including as voluntary communities of
like-minded individuals who share interests and tastes; how we
conduct ourselves in public spaces, such as the workplace, that
integrate the leisure/entertainment/information content that
television offers; how consumption of the traditional serialized
narrative structure of television has evolved into binge or
marathon viewing wherein the watching of a series becomes
like consuming a novel and allows for greater scrutiny of
aesthetic quality (Chmielewski, 2013; McNamara, 2012); and
the prevalence of so-called social TV that consists of real-time
conversations happening online while viewing (Jurgensen,
2013). According to Jenkins (2006), these developments have
so profoundly transformed the processes of media consumption that they have given rise to a convergence culture
between media users and producers that has enhanced the
extent to which audiences eagerly anticipate and avidly
participate in developments in media narratives (Leaver, 2013;
Milner, 2009). At the crux of this cultural shift is the development of what Jenkins calls a transmedia impulse for storytelling (2006: p. 133), a narrative universe that arises when
audiences trace and combine plots that unfold across multiple
media distribution formats (books, movies, comic books,
games, and fan-generated knowledge and content). (Fans have
always relied upon secondary and tertiary texts to supplement
their reading of primary texts (see Fiske, 1987), and they have
created a robust industry out of fan ction (Alter, 2012), but
Jenkins (2006: p. 98) argues that convergence culture relies
upon collective intelligence on the part of the consumer and
the audience to read an entertainment franchise or brand (i.e.,
a narrative universe) horizontally across formats and platforms.
While Fiskes textual layers and Jenkinss convergence culture
are clear adjuncts to the primary text that are partly audiencegenerated, Grays (2008) concept of paratext regards promos,
trailers, advertising, and the like as overt attempts by the
industry to direct audience expectations of the primary text.)
Transformations in media consumption like these will
continue to evolve, and they are readily sociologically contextualized. It is well known that marketers target consumers on
age-based demographic characteristics, and while 18- to
49-year-olds are the single most important consumer market
postWWII (Turow, 1997), the child/youth (tween) market
has become equally important (because broadcast networks
and advertisers seek to establish an early relationship with
consumers), especially as an indicator of the adoption of new
media technologies. Although the transformations in television
consumption described above and the emergence of other
online use patterns are presently more prevalent among online
teens, GenY, GenX, and Younger Boomers relative to older age
groups (Turow, 2011: p. 494), as the range of distribution
technologies becomes more accessible, simplied, and understandable, consumption practices will eventually change for
everyone. That said, recent statistics suggest that traditional


Video Cultures: Television

broadcast television will be around for some time to come.

(Due to space limitations we are unable to address the growing
posttelevision scholarly literature which examines the future
of traditional broadcast television in a world of convergence
culture; see, for example, Spigel and Olsson (2004) and Lotz
(2013).) Recent Nielsen data indicate that teens consume
the vast, vast majority of their video content via traditional
television (Juenger, quoted in Flint, 2013: p. B1), despite their
ready adoption of new media formats and technologies.
Finally, the introduction and adoption of new distribution
technologies and transformation of consumption practices
indicate there is still much for sociologists to learn about the
impact of the social uses of these technologies on society and in
everyday life. Cultural differences reected by chronological
age are often presumed (see Freese et al., 2006, for example),
but recent analysis suggests chronological age is less relevant to
the ways in which viewers relate to television content
(Harrington and Bielby, 2010; Harrington et al., 2011). Finally,
large questions still remain about the societal implications of
the Internet, which is the genesis of this revolution. These
include the relationship of the digital divide to inequality, the
extent to which the Internet furthers social isolation or social
capital and community formation, its benecial or detrimental
impact on politics, its impact on bureaucratic structure and
worker control, and its potentially diversifying, hypersegmenting, or massifying effect on societal culture (political
elections and terrorism being equally compelling if diametrically opposed uses) (DiMaggio et al., 2001).

The audience is crucial to the existence of television, not only as
a market that creates demand for the shows advertisers subsidize through commercials, but also as the locus of interpretative activity that contributes to making the content of television
programs culturally signicant. As an industry, television is in
the business of creating and selling programs, but from the
industrys standpoint its real business is the creating and selling
of audiences as consumers who will buy what they see
advertised, and as commodities to be marketed to advertisers
who sponsor the shows. Interpretative activity is shaped by the
audiences social activities and cultural identities as it seeks out
and consumes particular programs. These two views of the
relevance of the audience to television have created separate
lines of scholarship from different disciplinary perspectives
and only recently, through the study of fandom, are they in
potential dialog with one other.
The measurement of the television audience that the
industry relies upon to understand its market grew directly out
of measurement techniques used in radio; these included the
systematic measurement of audience size that yielded information about a potential market, and the measurement of
program ratings that indexed a shows popularity (see, for
example, Lasswell, 1948; Lazarsfeld, 1940). Because the
concept of reaching the largest possible audience of potential
consumers is pivotal to the success of commercial television,
early research by sociologists on audiences focused on the
concept of the mass audience, the broad reach that advertisers
desired and that networks needed to establish themselves.

Although then-inuential scholarly work of the Frankfurt

School aligned the notion of the mass audience with a vulnerability to persuasion by powerful social institutions, others
challenged the presumptive notion of the audience as a mass
of indistinguishable individuals, groups, or categories (Lang,
1957; Rosenberg and White, 1957) (Subsequent research has
revealed how audience segmentation (e.g., social status,
gender, age, employment, religion, and political afliation) is
associated with media use (Roe, 2000; van Eijck and van Rees,
2000; van Rees and van Eijck, 2003).), and still others who
directly studied media effects challenged the presumption of
persuasiveness, arguing that media content was ltered by
interpersonal networks, by individual need, and by selectivity
in exposure and perception (Katz, 1977: p. 22).
Issues of measurement precision have always been a matter
of ongoing discussion between the industry and ratings
companies, the leading one being A.C. Nielsen, because
advertisers rely upon the accuracy of ratings data to determine
advertising rates and where best to place their sponsorship.
Recent innovations by Nielsen to the measurement of TV
viewership to better capture the impact of new digital technology upon audience engagement include joining with
Twitter, Inc., which is the leader in real-time television
engagement, to create a new, separate industry metric that will
gauge penetration based entirely on data from the popular
microblogging website and social network (OConnell, 2012).
Another modication is Nielsens decision to expand beyond
the traditional TV denition of television by introducing
a comprehensive plan to capture all video viewing including
broadband, Xbox, and iPads (Block, 2013). A still unresolved
debate between the networks and Nielsen is the networks push
for advertisers to pay for live ratings plus online and digital
video recorder (DVR) viewing within 7 days, as opposed to the
live ratings plus 3 days they pay for now (Bond, 2013). (DVRs,
which are present in nearly half of all homes with a television,
are primarily used to record scripted fare, not sports programming or awards shows. The television industry would like to see
DVRs phased out and video-on-demand (VOD) become the
predominant alternative viewing platform because VOD does
not allow commercials to be skipped (Flint, 2012).) In short,
viewers use of digital technologies has changed the very denition of the practical ways in which audiences construct
their viewership, and this has, in turn, transformed not only
the commodication of the audience but also traditional
dynamics between the industries of advertising, marketing, and
The study of fandom has opened up intriguing avenues of
study for television scholars that align the characteristics of
audiences with aspects of their engagement. Two decades ago,
the study of Star Trek fans by Henry Jenkins (1992) and Camille
Bacon-Smith (1992), and of soap opera fans by Harrington and
Bielby (1995a), launched the rst wave of fandom studies, the
study of fans interpretative communities. These foundational
works, along with Joli Jensens (1992) penetrating insights into
cultural assumptions about fans in general, established the
importance of studying fan cultures in order to understand the
social legitimacy, meaning, and signicance of intensive viewing
practices. The wealth of research produced in the second wave of
fandom studies documented how fandom is integrated with
modern life (see Gray et al., 2007), and yet a great deal of work

Video Cultures: Television

remains to be done on fans individual motivations, enjoyment,

and pleasures, which comprise the third wave of scholarship on
fandom. This entails, in particular, furthering our understanding of how we form emotional bonds with ourselves and
others in a modern, mediated world through fan communities
(2007: p. 10). (For example, new media technologies have
transformed how fans record encounters with a celebrity. Fans
insistence on taking a photo of oneself with a famous person
has all but replaced the standard artifact of the autograph
(Villarreal, 2013). In another example, as ever more people
spend more of their lives online, social media sites are now,
also, becoming a public space for the conduct of traditional
cultural rituals such as mourning the death and preserving the
memory of beloved cultural gures (Khatchatourian, 2013).)
Very recent scholarship on fandoms contribution to the social
bonds that comprise everyday life, how individuals utilize
fandom as a resource for navigating the boundaries of ascribed
sociodemographic categories such as age, gender, race, and
social origins, and even fandoms role in rewriting of the institutional structure, organization, and dynamics of the life course
offer rich insight into the ever-deepening embeddedness of
media institutions like television in the lives of individuals in
the twenty-rst century (Gatson and Reid, 2011; Harrington and
Bielby, 2010; Harrington et al., 2011; Harrington and Brothers,
2010). However, as some have already noted, fandoms, whether
they are virtual or face-to-face, are still stratied communities
with cliques, hierarchies, and conict (Pearson, 2010) and
associated power dynamics (Harrington and Bielby, 1995b), as
is the case in all societies.

Guided by the production of culture perspective (Peterson
and Anand, 2004), the sociological study of television as
a system of industrial organization has yielded considerable
insight into how television, as a culture industry, fabricates
expressive-symbolic elements. In conjunction with the
concepts of the art world (Becker, 1982), the culture world
(Crane, 1992), and the ction complex (Griswold, 2000), the
production of culture perspective captures the organizational
complexity of the television industry and its myriad institutional participants, such as policy makers who determine
availability of content or products from other sources,
professional critics who appraise product quality, and audiences whose taste preferences inuence producers and shape
product trends. Early work inuenced by the production of
culture approach focused primarily on elaborating the structure and dynamics of televisions industrial systems per se
(see, for example, Muriel Cantors 1971 study of the television
producer and Intintolis 1984 ethnography of the production
of soap operas). However, over time, scholars incorporated
analysis of other pivotal aspects of the industry such as
industry boundary spanners and gatekeepers who serve as
intermediaries that link the industrys loosely coupled
components, target innovation, and move products along
(Hirsch, 1972), and industry executives use of symbolic or
ritualistic practices to manage the extreme uncertainty, risk,
and ambiguity in audience preferences (Bielby and Bielby,
1994). As a whole, this body of work reveals that television


strives to be a highly rationalized industry, but does not

necessarily succeed at this goal.
The disconnect between the industrys rationalized aspects
and its extreme business uncertainty opened the door to
research on how the distinctive features of creative industries
like television shape the subjective work experience of its
employees. Important work by Hesmondhalgh (2007)
(Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011) reveals that there is
a chasm between scholars who celebrate creative jobs in the
technology-driven economy, where there is exibility, safety,
autonomy, intrinsic satisfaction, name recognition, and the
integration of conception and execution, and those who
recognize that knowledge economy jobs are also marked by
high levels of insecurity, casualization, and long working hours
that result in self-exploitation. Research on localized production cultures among industry workers has specically targeted
the individual-level sense-making that creative workers
undertake as they labor (Caldwell, 2008). Questions about
sense-making become particularly relevant when studying
workers who use information and communication technologies that allow the labor of production to be, on the one hand,
dispersed across geographic locations, and, on the other,
virtually close transnational collaborations. How is collaboration enacted? How are artistic conventions understood?
A recent line of scholarly work focuses on the analysis of change
in television formats and production in the postnetwork (i.e.,
mass/broadcast) era of multichannel, multiplatform television
(Lotz, 2007), and its effect on traditional television formats
such as the talk show (unchanged due to its segmented format
that satises Internet-affected taste for video snacks) and the
nightly news (in decline because of competition from ondemand availability of news around the clock). It remains to
be seen how the study of localized production cultures in
particular and the production of culture more generally will be
affected as distinct lines of inquiry and as scholarly paradigms
by the developments of the postnetwork era, in particular, as
the demand for new job skills arises and established ones die
out, whether a postbroadcast era will continue to translate into
a wider range of desirable program options (pay cable networks
have already vastly enhanced the content, artiness, and quality
of serialized dramas(McNamara, 2013)), what the textual
attributes and features of newer program options might be, and
how this broadening of program options will affect the
industrys labor market, and access to it, for talent behind the
camera as well as in front (Ross, 2011).

Televisions Globalization
Why has sociology lagged as an equal contributor to the
analysis of these industry developments? In this section we
discuss one last development in the television industry, its
globalization. (Use of the term globalization here is in the
sociological sense of the increasing interconnectedness of
different parts of the world. Our use here refers specically to
cultural globalization, which Crane (2002: p. 1) denes as the
transmission or diffusion across national borders of various
forms of media and the arts. See also Giddens (1990). We
recognize the debates among globalization scholars about the
adequacy of their own conceptualizations of culture and


Video Cultures: Television

globalization (see Bielby, 2010).) With few exceptions (Cantor

and Cantor, 1986; Havens, 2006; Bielby and Harrington,
2008), not only has this topic received limited attention by
sociologists, it reveals in precise ways where concerted theoretical work is needed in order for sociology to keep abreast
with the industrys transformation.
The study of the global market for television was launched
by the now-classic United Nations Educational, Scientic and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) study by Nordenstreng and
Varis (1974), which provided one of the earliest attempts to
systematically document the export of television programming.
Their work uncovered a one-way ow of television content
from the United States, Britain, France, and the Federal
Republic of Germany to the rest of the world, with the United
States leading this group. Although their statistics revealed that
a large number of hours of airtime were exported, it is now well
understood that importing was deployed for a limited time by
nations in the process of building their own emerging national
television systems, and that as a strategy this proved to be far
more cost effective in the short run than underwriting local
productions to ll schedules and attract audiences. Subsequent
ndings by Varis (1984) provided equally interesting evidence
that other countries were also major producers of programming for international distribution within regional markets;
these included Mexico, which distributed throughout Latin
America, and Lebanon and the United Arab Republic, who
were major producers for the Middle East. Still others, like
India and Brazil, had robust internal industries, which subsequently developed into vigorous export markets. Since the
pioneering work by Nordenstreng and Varis, vital regional
geolinguistic markets such as Japan, which is a major supplier
throughout Asia and South Asia and has a global reach that
includes the West, Egypt, which supplies to the Arab world,
India to the Indian populations in Africa and Asia, and Hong
Kong and Taiwan to the Chinese-speaking population have
developed based on common cultural, linguistic, historical,
and geographic similarities (Sinclair et al., 1996).
Statistics like those from UNESCO about television
markets abroad were the basis for early and compelling
assertions of US cultural imperialism by communication
scholars (Schiller, 1976). A more recent (1990s) version of
these concerns is the work by media scholars who study the
internationalization of media conglomerates as purveyors of
US cultural hegemony, global cultural homogenization, and
cultural synchronization (Herman and McChesney, 1997;
McChesney, 2004; Miller et al., 2001). Even more recently,
there is renewed interest in programming content, which, it is
argued, foregrounds neoliberal values such as consumption
(Couldry, 2010); this is yet another iteration of a macrooriented, top-down approach.
Arguments like these are often provocative and compelling, and they can be a helpful starting point for trying to
understand key questions about the power of national media
culture around the world and the landscape of diverse media
markets. However, too often discussion of global media ends
rather than starts at questions of imperialism (Tunstall,
1994). Their generally macrooriented, top-down analyses
note the increasing power and scope of a small number of
media corporations around the world; however, this is
a problem because broad statistics about the distribution of

shows or the ownership of conglomerates, although interesting and obvious, also locks us into assumptions and
narrows our explanations and understanding of the global
market. Important questions are missed when one focuses
only on the broad picture of television trade ows or
industry consolidation, especially in such an unpredictable
market (Cantor and Cantor, 1986). For instance, although
national industries have developed many business strategies
that include coproductions and the selling of formats
(TV show concepts that are repackaged to suit particular
(national) markets and tastes (Freedman, 2003)) in an
attempt to systematize revenue from abroad, even these
arrangements are subject to the vagaries of potential buyers
who must be responsive to cultural proscriptions and policies, as well as to audience preferences (Esser, 2010). Also left
undetermined is why specic programs are marketed, adopted, or rejected by distributors. Even larger questions loom
about how television programs are transformed at the local
level in diverse international contexts of reception and
This theoretical gap directs us to so-called middle-range
approaches that bridge micro- and macroconcerns and target
mesolevel conceptualization, evidence, and analysis (Sinclair
et al., 1996). Mesolevel analysis attends to the concrete operational and cultural logics of global television markets:
the features and operations of the marketplace rather than the
market per se; the cyclicality of the forms and practices of the
business of the industry rather than a presumed teleological
development; industry participants who are located at all levels
of organizational settings rather than just industry leaders or
other highly visible decision makers; and the possibility that
television series are malleable cultural products rather than
immutable texts with inherent meanings (Bielby and Moloney,
2008). In short, it is necessary to study not only the production
of television/video cultures, but also their distribution, and the
contexts and mechanisms of their distribution, at many
concrete levels (Bielby and Harrington, 2008). In sum, if
a small number of huge media corporations now dominate the
majority of media industry markets, this is a useful starting
point for investigation of global television ownership and
control and its consequences. But research must move beyond
this important starting point. A useful research focus would be
seeking understanding of the institutional logics of the organizations that make up the global marketplace for television
and its video cultures, and targeting its mechanisms for
managing market uncertainty in its business transactions, and,
how local cultures affect these arrangements/solutions. This
conceptual vantage point invites attention to organizations,
participants, market features, discourses, locations, and properties of the cultural products produced (which pose a challenging management issue because they are so culturally/
symbolically laden and their success or failure is so difcult to
predict). More importantly, it would call for concerted attention to the locally specic ways in which such mechanisms are
culturally understood, practiced, and engaged, (see Chung and
Hamilton, 2001; Wherry, 2012). Finally, it would pay close
attention to the consistency of ndings that indicate reception
by audiences is a crucial middle-range factor in this market
(Gray, 2007; Kraidy, 2009; McMillin and Fisherkeller, 2009;
Sanson, 2011).

Video Cultures: Television

The research reviewed here provides several challenges for
future sociological research on televisions video cultures. The
theoretical gap noted by Grindstaff and Turow (2006) that
consists of the distance between the now dominant approaches
to the study of television the political economy perspective
and the cultural perspective calls for concerted attention by
scholars of culture industries. Such efforts call for a bolder
approach to reading across disciplinary boundaries and
attending to scholarly developments in cognate elds, while at
the same time not losing sight of what is inherently sociological
in that quest. For those still interested in macrolevel debates,
a useful starting point might be the nuanced, encyclopedic
synthesis and review of the vast body of evidence that is used to
invoke notions of cultural imperialism and cultural globalization (Hesmondhalgh, 2007; Mirrlees, 2013). For those
interested in the fertile opportunities for expanding conceptualization of the middle range of televisions video cultures
related to globalization and cultural production, there is useful
work by cultural geographers who study regional/urban
agglomerations of cultural production and distribution (see
Scott, 2005, for example). There is also useful work by media
studies scholars who examine how the institutional logics of
politics and markets of other countries thwart television
distribution (Curtin, 2005). For those interested in closing the
theoretical gap in other ways lies the opportunity to explore the
vastly overlooked topic of the properties of television as
a cultural form (Bielby and Harrington, 2004; Mittell, 2004),
the embeddedness of its form in everyday life (Lembo, 2000),
and its critical appraisal and analysis (Bielby et al., 2005).
Together, these topics made up an important part of early
scholarship on television (see Boddy, 1990), which has,
regrettably, been all but abandoned and yet remains pivotal to
understanding televisions ubiquity, popularity, societal penetration, and global presence. In conclusion, regardless of how
or where one enters the gap, what is essential is building out
from more established lines of thought and traditions and
nding new challenges and opportunities for empirically
grounded insights.

See also: Artists, Competition and Markets; Audience

Measurement; Audiences, Media; Culture and Institutional
Logics; Culture, Production of: Prospects for the Twenty-First
Century; Globalization and World Culture; Internet and Culture;
Narrative Networks; Networks and Cultural Consumption;
Organizations and Culture; Television: General.

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