This article investigates shifts that have occurred in recent years within the symbolic universe of television. The point of departure here is that these shifts must be related to a changing conception of the way in which the media fulfill their socializing and identity-formation function. In this article these shifts are situated in the broader context of the changes that have occurred on the socio-economic level and on the level of the socialization system. These changes -- from modernity to postmodernity -- explain what is happening in media culture. Philip Schlesinger's (1991: 137) argument that the theme of collective identity "is certain to become increasingly central in the human sciences" actually implies that something that previously seems to have been experienced as unproblematical, namely (collective) identity, will be considered less and less selfevident in the future. Indeed, it does now appear to be that people find their identity less than previously in the traditionally pregiven categories and structures and in ascribed characteristics. "So, class, gender and ethnicity," according to Crook et al. (1992: 35), "decline in social significance and so also do some of their characteristic forms of expression." Instead, it is held, people are constituting more and
Communications – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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