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DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


Much of present-day television analysis emerges from the initial work of Raymond W illiams and Marshall McLuhan. Williams's Television: Technology and Cultural Form (1974) places the emergence of television as an invention of applied technology within the context of larger societal and economic transformations in the West. By historicizing television as well as questioning the social effects of programming, Williams creates a framework and vocabulary from which to examine television and its programs. One of Williams's most influential ideas is that television is experiencing “a significant shift from the concept of sequence as programming to the concept of sequence of flow” (p. 89) where textual material constantly moves from one image to the next. This sequential description of “flow” continues to be an important way to discuss television, especially in the age of MTV, CNN, and the Home Shopping Network, where images are increasingly “detextualized.” John Ellis (1982) problematizes Williams's notion of “flow,” preferring to discuss television's tendency for “segmentation.” Ellis argues that television programming presents “rapid alternation between scenes … rather than any sustained progression” (p. 120), presenting “segments in larger or smaller conglomerations” of images (p. 122). For Ellis, the narrative of television is a matter of succession rather than consequence. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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