Departmental Papers (ASC)

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Journal Article

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Annual Review of Sociology



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We argue that the most significant and influential research on television over the past five decades positions the medium as a key site for addressing the complex interrelationship between culture and institutional/organizational power. Granting that such work is theoretically and methodologically diverse, we employ an organizational frame that groups political-economic approaches on the one hand and cultural approaches on the other. Political-economic approaches largely attend to issues of power at a macro level, focusing on how ownership and control of television along with the organization of television production practices shape and influence content; cultural approaches focus more on the expressive and symbolic dimensions of television programming and reception. At the same time, contemporary changes in the medium threaten to make past research on television appear quaint and anachronistic. The industry's transformation of television into continually emerging sets of multifaceted digital-interactive technologies challenges researchers to draw enduring perspectives from the older work and assess how they apply to the new-media environment. Consequently, we suggest the term “video cultures” in lieu of “television sociology” as a way of capturing future trends.


Copyright/Permission Statement

Reproduced with permission from the Annual Review of Sociology, Volume 32 © 2006 by Annual Reviews,


new media, political economy, programming, reception



Date Posted: 22 April 2019

This document has been peer reviewed.