The Rise of the Mass Media: Modern Communications and Cultural Traditions in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
This chapter offers an overview of the rise of the commercial media in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and their complex inter-relationship with existing cultural traditions in Germany. After briefly surveying the social and economic pre-conditions underlying the growth of the new media, it analyses how they intermingled with existing cultural forms and practices, and how media producers sought to identify with perceived audiences. Though this process entailed a number of innovations, the need to build on older, ‘safe’ traditions drawn from the theatre or music hall profoundly shaped how the media and commercial entertainments were perceived by both producers and consumers alike. Arguing that the new media did not so much displace these traditions as reconfigure them, this section then briefly considers the threat this reconfiguration posed to cultural authority, and the various arguments of articulate critics that were advanced against it.
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