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Television - Essay Example

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Williams looks at television in a broad sense, looking at the social history of television as a technology and the social history of the uses of television technology, as well as looking at cause and effect of technology and society. Spigel looks at television by examining how it affected domestic life in the 1950s, while also reflecting this domestic life. Adorno looked at television by how it affected the psyche and the personality. Williams (3) begins his essay by looking at looking at the general statement that television has altered our world. He argues that technology, in general, has profound social change, and television is a kind of technology that promotes this type of change. The technologies which had come along by Williams’ time, including the steam engine, the car, the atom bomb, and the television, are responsible for making modern man and making television. Or, alternatively, instead of looking at technology as changing and making the modern man, the technology is actually the consequence of a certain societal change. In this case, the new technology is a symptom of social change, not the cause of it. He also states that television, like most technology, sprung up as the result of a specific need that was expressed by society (Williams, 12). That was that technology was necessary because there was a need to spread the word of mouth communication, which is the dominant mode of getting a message out to the masses. There was an extension of the social, economic and political system, and television was a response to the crisis within this system. There came a time where there was a great complex group of technologies which were needed for society, including photography for community, family and personal life; the motion picture for entertainment; and the telephone for business communication (Williams, 12). The television, then, was the result of these needs coalescing, as the television essentially brings all of these technologies together. Therefore, the television, according to Williams (13), is a way for there to be social integration and control. While Williams viewed television in terms of how it was used, and why it was invented, Spigel (337) took a different tact. For her, television was not simply a matter of technology that is responding to different social needs, but television has also played a complex role in the individual households and individual lives that view it. Specifically, television was a representation of the gendered patterns of work and leisure in the average American home (Spigel, 337). Spigel examined advertisements that ran in women’s magazines to determine how television was integrated into the family life, particularly in the life of the woman. These advertisements provided a clue to how television was made sense of by the people and how television related to their lives. For a time, television was a way to restore the faith in the family. During the 1950s, Spigel (340) explains, there was much fracture in families, as the war had just ended, which left many broken homes. On television, however, there were portraits of happy and domestic people living lives that were not so fractured, so this was a way of restoring faith in the family. Moreover, women were affirmed through television, as television showed them that they were important. They often felt devalued, because their work was not seen as important in the overall scheme of things, but television helped them see that ...Show more
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Date Television and Why It Is the Way It Is Television is a complex technology, although it doesn’t necessary seem so on the face of it. However, it certainly is capable of changing people’s psyches and personalities, and it has been noted for its importance and its ability to meet societal needs…
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