PATTERNS OF FAMILY LIFE AND TELEVISION CONSUMPTION FROM 1945 TO THE 1990s
Margaret S. Andreasen
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Since the 1940s, family structure and function have probably undergone more profound and rapid revisions than during all the remainder of American history. Family values, lifestyles, use of discretionary time, and reliance on technological sophistication have all been affected, in some cases transformed, by the events of the last half century. And television as a medium has developed both technically and programatically during the same period. Thus, all the variables in the "family's-use-oftelevision" dynamic have changed individually and in relation to one another.
Using the methodology of the historian, and at times that of the cultural archeologist, I begin this chapter with a few assumptions: (a) family television consumption takes place within the context of family life and needs to be understood within the context of the family system; (b) both family function and the development of television technology occur within an historical, cause-and-effect driven social universe; and (c) our procedures for monitoring social and technological changes in relation to one another are suspect if not out and out haphazard. Additionally, because other chapters in this volume discuss specific television program content and its effects, I omit analysis of those topics and focus instead on