The Future of American Television Part 2

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2 Responses

  1. kiyallsmith says:

    It seems there are two different constituencies worried about profit and wages: the culture workers and the networks. While the shift to other modes of content delivery might be the end of networks, there may be something exciting for culture workers in what Jenkins says. This could bring about a form of democratization of cultural products, which seems exciting to me.


  2. bmckernan says:


    Indeed, we should distinguish between the cultural workers’ concerns and the television networks.

    However, while I agree that today’s “convergence culture” has the potential to more fully democratize cultural products, as sociologists we shouldn’t lose sight of the structures and conditions that will continue to limit this democratization.

    The internet and high bandwidth access certainly give cultural producers the ability to directly share or sell texts to their audiences, potentially eliminating the need for large scale distributors such as television networks and retail chains.

    However, when we look at which cultural producers have had success with this arrangement, many of the most successful have come from relatively established cultural careers beforehand, such as popular musicians Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails as well as the writer/director Joss Whedon.

    Furthermore, while the internet may still have the appearance of a wild west frontier, an overwhelming number of users visit the same websites. We should be open to the possibility that eventually something similar to network/cable television will emerge on the internet, with a few massive internet outlets distributing many of the cultural texts consumed by the majority of society (the i-Tunes store is probably a good example of this).

    This is not to dismiss the fact that cultural producers today do indeed have alternatives to the major network system. However, as Jenkins himself notes, today’s convergence culture does not eliminate cultural power inequalities between the cultural industries (and cultural workers) and their audiences, but does at least potentially make the relationship more contentious.

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