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Make Room for TV

Spigel, Lynn. Make Room for TV :Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
In this book, Lynn Spigel follows the path made by the incorporation of television into domestic space, after World War II. By tracing this development, as a cultural history of the television in United States, she examines the transfer of the exhibition of leisure from the public space, as its primary site, to the private one. This change involved a transformation in both spheres, with a particular stress in a new conception of the home, understood as a relational space. Nevertheless, the house also experienced noticeable modifications regarding its spatiality, the intended use of each area and the conceptions of leisure and work there.
Television appears as an agent of change that compassed the new ideals about family life and domesticity after the World War II. By bringing people together, busy and passive at time, television incarnates the solution to previous anxieties. The influence of television, or its catalytic power of a more complex forces, operates at both sides of the screen, through representation on television and repercussion into domestic space, and Spigel is interested in both, with greater stress on the latter.
Lynn Spigel describes the evolution of the home as a space for leisure, and its relation with technological developments. That space, as she exposes, was highly gendered, and television maintain that difference. Regarding the role of television into the household economy, Spigel asserts that it works as a way to keep women inside the house. Also, the idea of television as ‘a window to the world’ reduces the anxieties about the public space.
The influence of media, in this case television, into domestic space can be observed, despite spatial impact, as an influence into the home: the major change was related to interaction among people and the transmission of values about how that interaction must be.


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