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Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America - Book Report/Review Example

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Almost two-thirds of the households in the United States purchased a television between the years of 1948 and 1955, and television, which experienced a long adolescence over the previous several decades, revolutionized the American experiences particularly in its impact upon the family and the nation’s cultural life…
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Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America
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Download file to see previous pages Spiegel is, according to the book jacket of the volume at hand, the Chair of the Division of Critical Studies at the School of Cinema-Television, located on the University of Southern California campus. Having co-edited two previous books, Close Encounters: Film, Feminism, and Science Fiction, and Private Screenings: Television and the Female Consumer, both of which dealt with mass media and its impact upon women in the home and in society, Spiegel has expressed an abiding interest in the role that technology plays in the fashioning of families and sociological ideals in American society. This book fits well within that scope of interest. It concerns the cultural, economic, political, and historical implications of television in the postwar period, including an assessment of how television both confronted and altered domestic ideals as it became pervasive in its influence and shaped the American experience of the period. ...
as a cultural phenomenon and to analyze and assess the relationship between family and television and “why television came to represent so much of the culture’s hopes and fears” (p. 4). The basic structure of the book supports the argument presented. The book begins with a brief introduction, in which Spiegel highlights some of the major contradictions that television came to entail and represent such as (1) why, during a period when the American woman was entering the workforce in record numbers, television’s portrayal of the woman’s role in family life almost entirely ignored this trend and (2) how television served both to unite the family and the culture around the viewing experience and divide them along demographic, racial, economic, and generational lines. Chapter 1 then deals with the evolution of family recreation and the expression of domestic ideals in the culture leading up to and just the war, in order to place the emergence of television as a cultural force shaping middle class values within a historical context. Chapter 2 summarizes the main contradictions of TV’s cultural impact as both a divisive and unifying force, a kind of Frankenstein’s monster of hoped-for and unintended consequences. For example, television, by presenting a certain view of domestic life and doing so in a way that was pervasive in its daily impact on the viewing public, television came to disrupt the very domestic ideal that it portrayed as representative as optimal. In Chapter 3, Spiegel details the economic impact of television on the family, particularly as it influenced women in their daily experience. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with aspects of the television’s socialization role in the new culture it came to represent, both in terms of how it affected the overall ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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