Video Cultures: Television Sociology in the 'New TV' Age

Posted: 11 Jan 2008

See all articles by Laura Grindstaff

Laura Grindstaff

University of California, Davis

Joseph Turow

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication


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.

Keywords: new media, political economy, programming, reception

Suggested Citation

Grindstaff, Laura and Turow, Joseph, Video Cultures: Television Sociology in the 'New TV' Age. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 32, August 2006, Available at SSRN:

Laura Grindstaff (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Joseph Turow

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

3620 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215 898 5842 (Phone)

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