Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film

Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film

Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film

Image and Influence: Studies in the Sociology of Film

Excerpt

When I first decided to write this book I believed that the cinema had been criminally neglected by sociology. I was wrong. Criminal though its treatment may have been, it certainly had not been neglected. Though there is only one recent text on the subject (by I. C. Jarvie), there is an enormous and uneven amount of general literature. Over the past few years I have had both the opportunity and the inclination to read much of this work. I can report, in all honesty, that the game was not worth the candle. The few outstanding studies are all but submerged in a sea of mediocrity. But why? A few years ago I might have produced another glib observation: that we need an exhaustive synthesising perspective, a reputable body of theory. But I would be wrong in that too, or, at least, only partly right. While every empirical study does need some such perspective, the difficulties besetting the sociology of film run deeper. For this we must largely blame the baleful influence of classic media research. A formidable combination of unthinking empiricism and cultural prejudice has stultified our understanding. So much so that all the energies invested in research have shown frighteningly little return.

I wish that I could claim to transcend these difficulties. But I cannot. This book is also marked by the mass communications heritage; it is a constant struggle to even avoid the same old traps. Yet there is some cause for optimism. Recent years have seen many sociological sub-disciplines finally finding their feet; there are even rumours of dissidence in media studies! In what follows I have tried to add my small push away from the scientism and objectivism which has so often characterised media research. Though I know that I have not entirely succeeded, I would like to think that I have moved a little way along the road. If others are persuaded that the route is worth travelling, then so much the better. It will at least compensate for some of my own failings.

This book could have been a lot worse without help from . . .

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