CRACKING THE CODES OF TELEVISION: THE CHILD AS ANTHROPOLOGIST WITH LEONA JAGLOM
The anthropologist occupies a unique position in our society. While most of us have little opportunity to visit exotic lands, such ventures constitute the anthropologist's central mission. It is a daunting one. Relying primarily on common sense and general knowledge of human nature, he has to describe and eventually to construct, almost singlehandedly, models of various aspects of an entire society--its language, its kinship structure, its values, and its beliefs. He must continue to test and revise his formulations as necessary, until he feels relatively secure in his characterizations. Even with the help of articulate informants, he is unlikely to grasp the culture in all its particulars. Indeed, if his description is even approximately right, his ethnography will be considered a success.
Though our daily routine may seem far removed from such an existence, most of us have been anthropologists early in our lives. For in being placed in front of a television set and being asked, in effect, to make sense of the innumerable fleeting images it presents, the young child of two, four, or eight years of age is a kind of anthropologist.
Indeed in many ways the job confronted by our young anthropologist as he steadily eyes a Sony portable set is even more challenging. He