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CMNS 230
David Newman

WEEK 2 CULTURAL INDUSTRIES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY: THE KEY FEATURES Hesmondhalgh, 2013 6 THE PLACE OF CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN ECONOMIES AND SOCIETIES 6 • Three eras in the development of cultural production in Europe: 1. Patronage and artisanal (middle ages to early 19 century): creators were retained, protected, and supported by aristocrats or the Church and sold goods directly to them; today: artthans 2. Market professionals (until late 19 century): artistic work sold to the public via intermediaries (booksellers, publishers); late 19 century intermediaries paid in royalties 67 3. Corporate professional (from early th 20 century, expanding after 1950): commissioning of works professionalized and organized, direct employees of cultural companies, new media technologies (radio, television, film) -> altered, new cultural activity, rise of advertising  “era of cultural production”; corporate = number of people in unified group • Complex professional: increasing complexity of division of labour involved in making texts most crucial feature of the era; Box 2.1: Understanding transitions • Complex professional form dominated cultural production from 1950 onward but other forms continued to exist alongside 68 o Patronage, artisanal and market professional residual forms (e.g. sponsorship of artists) o State and public broadcasting emergent form within early stages of Complex Professional Era (CPE)  complex professional is a heuristic device to describe the whole era of cultural production from 1950s onwards (mix of different forms) A QUESTION OF COMMODIFICATION • Major changes in cultural production over the last four or five centuries 1. Industrialisation: significant capital investment, mechanised production, division of labour 6 2. Commodification: transforming objects and services into commodities 9 (producing things not only for use but also for exchange); capitalism is a system involving an extension of commodification th 7 • Commodification preceded the industrialization of culture beginning in 20 0 century, industrialization intensified and extended commodification of culture • Three ways/stages in which printed texts have been commodified 1. Commodification of material object (book) from 15 century onwards; implications: profusion of books 2. Comthdification of information contained within the material object from 18 century onwards; implications: copy right law, underpins ownership of cultural commodities 3. Commodification of access to printed text information via electronic databases and so on; consumption side problem: conflict between 7 commercial institutions and common ownership of/access to cultural 1 goods; production side problem: cultural labour goes unrecognized • What should be sold and what should not? • CPE is a new stage in the commodification and industrialisation of culture BUSINESS OWNERSHIP AND STRUCTURE • Striking feature of CPE: presence of large corporations in the business of cultural production; o Conglomerates, vertically integrated oligopolies, cross-media ownership 7 • Conglomeration 2 o Adopted by all industries, driven by need to be seen as achieving growth o First hit CIs in 1960s in the form of industrial and financial and business corporations buying up and investing in media interests o 1960s and 1970s: large general conglomerates with diverse interests; convergences and synergies; 73 • small companies also multiplied: scale of reproduction and circulation of cultural goods grew, but conception of cultural works took place on small scale Box 2.2 The Hollywood oligopoly across the CPE • 8 companies dominated Hollywood 1925-1950 • ‘Big Five’ distributed films and owned cinemas • ‘Little Three’ distributed films but did not own cinemas • US Supreme Court tried to break oligopoly of Big Five (no longer allowed to own cinemas) -> Big Five subcontracted independent film production companies -> became divisions of one large conglomerate 74 The Big Five • Paramount, now part of Viacom conglomerate • 20 Century Fox, now part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation • Warner Brothers, merged with Time in 1990 (-> TimeWarner), merged with AOL in 2000 • Loew’s/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), merged with UA in 1981 (-> MGM/UA), bought by Sony in 2004 • Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO), broken up in 1954 The Little Three • Universal, taken over by MCA 1950s, Matsushita 1986, Seagram 1995, Vivendi 2000 • Columbia, taken over by Coca-Cola 1981, Sony 1988 • United Artists, taken over by Transamerica Corporation 1967, merged with MGM 1981 • Disney, not part of Hollywood oligopoly, distributed by UA and RKO, set up own distribution wing Buena Vista when RKO was broken up
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