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Television, Technology and Culture: A Contextualist Approach

Taylor & Francis
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  • Anthropology


In this article, the author offers a contextualist approach to contemporary debates about new (and old) media in different historical times and geographical places. This approach, rather than starting with the internal essence of a technology and then attempting to deduce its effects from its technical specifications, begins with an analysis of the interactional and cultural systems in play in a particular context and then investigates how any particular technology is fitted into them. Building on his previous work in microanalyses of technology use in the home, and drawing on recent debates in technology studies and media anthropology, he further develops the implications of this approach, at a macro level, in terms of temporal and cultural contexts. The article concludes by reviewing the outstanding problems that still confront our field, in respect to its deeply ingrained presumptions concerning the universal relevance of what are, in fact, specifically Western (and thus contingent) relations between television, technology and national cultures.

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