Discussion Questions – Williams’ Television Chapter 1

Hello all,

Enclosed are my discussion prompts for tomorrow’s meeting.

  1. The Preface to Williams’ Television illustrates just how much Williams rejects all forms of technological determinism (p.viii) (that they cannot emerge and have a life of their own, neither the fact that television can be reducible).  On that regard, Williams sees the rise of television as inextricably linked with social expectations, political and economical ideologies and institutions, and essentially a cultural product.  While chapter 1 discusses more of the “history” and social use of the television one way to open discussion would be to A) identify some of the unexpected/unforeseen results/consequences (p.4) that television has had in our lives – socially, financially, culturally B) whether or not these unexpected results also occurred in other mediums/technologies (radio, telegraph, telephone) and finally C) how we have been able to conceptualize the study of television as a means to understand the institutionalization of culture?  It may also be beneficial to look at Kompare’s article with regards to not only the commodification of television but also the ways in which technology has functioned as a “flow industry”.

 

  1. How does Williams’ interpretation model (p.7 with emphasis on intention and as direct and central to social needs, practices and purposes) differ from the symptomatic and deterministic model?  Williams spends the better part of the chapter looking at the complex relationship between the various forms of technology to illustrate that “the invention of television was no single event or series of events” (p.7).  How was the “social” (p. 10) taken into account with the development of these technologies that necessitated a change (or remediation) of a new form of broadcast communication (starting p. 14)? 

 

  1. Describe the paradoxical social relationship between broadcasting and mass communication in terms of marketing television.  How was the dichotomy of “public” and “private” (p. 17 & 19) conceptualized in terms of audience, receptiveness, and even quality (p. 22)?  Even though Williams states: “[w]hen broadcasting because visual, the option for its social advantages outweighed the immediate technical deficits” (pp. 22-23 à sound, picture, quality), what has become the major thrust of television in today’s market…sustainability, broadcasting power, high definition resolution?  Have we lost (or downgraded or replaced) the social factor of television?

See you all tomorrow,

jeremy

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