The Impact of International Television: A Paradigm Shift

By Michael G. Elasmar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Choosing National TV: Cultural
Capital, Language, and Cultural
Proximity in Brazil
Joseph Straubhaar
University of Texas

There are many ways of looking at culture and the globalization of television. This study looks at that aspect of culture that is the individual and collective synthesis identity in interaction with media, particularly television. In this sense, the movement from traditional local life to modern interaction with mass media has produced identities that are already multilayered with elements very local, regional (subnational but larger than the very local), and national (Anderson, 1983). This study argues that television viewers around the world continue to strongly reflect these layers or aspects of identity while many also acquire new layers of identity that are supranational, based on cultural-linguistic “regions, ” and global. The chapter argues, however, based on an analysis of in-depth interviews in

Brazil, that the proportion of people whose identity is deeply globalized actually quite small, that the traditional layers of identity at the local, regional, and national levels are still the strongest for the large majority of people, with cultural-linguistic region rapidly becoming very important for some cultures.

In a more practical and immediate sense, this chapter uses cultural capital as a concept to sum up a series of identifiable sets knowledge and disposition that people tend to use when deciding what they want watch on television. Although a number of studies have focused on the role language in defining television markets (Wildman & Siwek, 1988), this chapter tries to define and demonstrate a number of the cultural factors that also define television markets, by defining what audiences' cultural identities and cultural capital leads them to prefer. Those are specific things like humor, gender images, dress, style, lifestyle, knowledge about

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