Journal Article

Healthy for Family Life: Television, Masculinity, and Domestic Modernity during West Germany's Miracle Years

Joe Perry

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 25, issue 4, pages 560-595
Published in print October 2007 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0266355407082774
Healthy for Family Life: Television, Masculinity, and Domestic Modernity during West Germany's Miracle Years

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This article uses the history of West German television as a lens to analyse the politics of consumption and domestic modernity during the ‘economic miracle’ in the 1950s and early 1960s. Politicians, academics, broadcast executives, industry promoters, clerical leaders, and cultural critics engaged in a ferocious debate about the effects of the new mass media on West German society and family. While some championed the democratizing and modernizing effects of television, others decried its supposedly totalitarian and ‘feminizing’ qualities; their arguments, pro and con, marked a foundational moment in contemporary cultural criticism that continues to resonate. Installed in the family home, television accelerated the arrival of a highly commodified society and transformed the private habits of everyday life. Men in particular began to spend more leisure time on domestic pursuits, crossing traditional boundaries between public and private gender roles. Such private practices had larger effects: buying, watching, and thinking through television helped replace traditionalist social conservatism with its neoliberal variant and linked West Germany into the social, political, and cultural structures of corporate capitalism and western consumer society.

Keywords: television; consumer society; gender and masculinity; modernity; cultural criticism; Federal Republic of Germany

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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