Culture, Communication and National Identity

Culture, Communication and National Identity: The Case of Canadian Television

RICHARD COLLINS
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 367
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv53r
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  • Book Info
    Culture, Communication and National Identity
    Book Description:

    A European multilingual society, without a shared culture or common European audio-visual sphere and with viewers watching foreign television, can survive successfully as a political entity ? just as Canada has.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7367-0
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: The Martian View
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-41)

    This study reviews television policy in Canada, in particular the purport and consequences of its central objective: the strengthening of Canadian national identity. It focuses on a twenty-year period, from the passage of the Broadcasting Act of 1968, which represented a high point in the definition of nationalist goals for Canadian broadcasters, to the late 1980s, when the death of the proposed 1988 Broadcasting Act (Bill C-136) and successive federal-government cuts in the budget for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (cbc) signalled reassessment and revision of the governmentʹs goals for broadcasting in Canada. A new role for Canadian broadcasting has yet...

  6. 2 Structure and Historical Development of Canadian Television
    (pp. 42-65)

    The Fowler Commission succinctly identified the central policy dilemma that has preoccupied makers and analysts of Canadian cultural policy: either state-sponsored resistance to the allocations of the capitalist market or, if the market operates freely, Canadaʹs integration into the United States. Television is the most important terrain over which those pervasive Canadian concerns are exercised; the House of Commons Standing Committee on Culture and Communication stated that ʹBroadcasting Policy is Canadaʹs premier cultural policyʹ (House of Commons 1988, 11). And, since 1968, television drama has been defined as the strategic position on which the future of Canadaʹs nationhood turns. In...

  7. 3 1968 and After: The Public Sector and the Market from the Broadcasting Act to Caplan/Sauvageau
    (pp. 66-104)

    The second Fowler Report urged that government clearly define its intentions for broadcasting and create effective instruments for the promulgation of its policies: ʹIn the past Parliament has not stated the goals and purposes for the Canadian broadcasting system with sufficient clarity and precision, and this has been more responsible than anything else for the confusion in the system and the continuing dissatisfaction which has led to an endless series of investigations of itʹ (Fowler 1965, 91; cited in Ellis 1979, 60).

    The twin cores of Fowlerʹs recommendations – clear policy objectives and regulatory restructuring – were taken into the...

  8. 4 Nationalism
    (pp. 105-140)

    The nation and the ideology of nationalism are notoriously inadequately theorized. Smith comments that ʹthe task of a general theory [i.e., of nationalism] must await further studies of the origins of nationalismʹ (1979, viii) and also states: ʹOne can only be amazed at the comparative lack of sociological interest and research in this field. Sociologists from Comte and Marx to Parsons and Dahrendorf have neglected nationalism and even today it has not become a major locus of sociological interestʹ (1971, 3).

    Notwithstanding Smithʹs judgment (shared by Anderson 1983 and Seton-Watson 1964), there is a literature on nationalism of respectable size...

  9. 5 Maximization of Satisfaction: The Market Paradigm
    (pp. 141-159)

    Though the 1968 Broadcasting Act defines Canadian broadcasting as a ʹsingle system,ʹ Canadaʹs broadcasting system is fissured and contradictory. The goals variously sought by Canadian broadcasters – public service, promotion of national identity, and profit-maximization – are mutually antagonistic.

    Public-sector broadcasters are caught between the imperatives of public service (demanding a range of different programs for distinct publics) and those of nationalism (demanding programming of mass appeal that will bind the different communities and interests in Canada together in a single Canadian culture and consciousness). Canadaʹs commercial broadcasters pursue the maximization of profit, best achieved by assembling the largest number...

  10. 6 Dependency Theory and Television in Canada
    (pp. 160-189)

    The kernel proposition in dependency theory is that the market economy constitutes peripheral states as exploited dependencies of core states. Though first a theory of economic relations, dependency theory has metamorphosed to embrace cultural relations, and ʹdependencyʹ is now a pervasive metaphor used to characterize Canadaʹs relation to the United States. It has become the dominant optic through which scholars of Canadian communication (with some exceptions, such as Toogood [1969] and Desaulniers [1982; 1985]) have analysed the Canadian audio-visual media.

    The notion ʹdependencyʹ implies an opposite: autonomy or independence. The implied core value asserted in dependency theory is national autonomy,...

  11. 7 The Intellectuals, Television, and the Two Solitudes
    (pp. 190-227)

    In 1945 Hugh MacLennanʹs novelTwo Solitudeswas published; its title has become a standard metaphor for the relations of English and French Canada.

    Canadaʹs two language communities respond to television in strikingly different ways. Francophone viewers watch more Canadian programs than do anglophones, and French Canada has better television theory and criticism than does English Canada; for a significant stratum of its intellectuals take television, and popular taste, seriously. But there are also important similarities in the two communitiesʹ, and their respective intellectualsʹ, responses to television. English and French Canadians share a perception of their societies as ʹdependentʹ and...

  12. 8 The Television Audience
    (pp. 228-249)

    There is little information available on the behaviour and attitudes of the television audience in Canada. A striking example of this surprising lacuna is the Caplan/Sauvageau Report (1986). The 731-page report contains only a single chapter on programs and audiences. This chapter is replete with information on program offer but contains little information on consumption, beyond tables that show viewing behaviour in terms of type of program, nationality of program, and type of transmitting station. Caplan/Sauvageau is representative of other Canadian studies of the television audience in that it concentrates on consumption behaviour rather than on audience attitudes and response....

  13. 9 National Culture; or, Where Is Here?
    (pp. 250-276)

    Television drama, although widely regarded as a crucial element in the formation and maintenance of a Canadian identity, is a particularly problematic type of television programming to Canadianize. Its production costs are very high and its potential audiences are readily able to consume American television drama (distinguished by high production values and professional production competence). However, the establishment of public broadcasting and regulation of the private sector by state agencies such as Telefilm Canada, using the carrot, and the crtc, using the stick, have successfully created a ʹstructural potentialityʹ for domestic television drama in Canada. The rationale for Canadian television...

  14. 10 The Single Dramas: La Misère Canadienne
    (pp. 277-297)

    A series like ʹFor the Recordʹ is unimaginable outside a public-service broadcasting system. It is, as John Kennedy, head of cbc English Services Division (esd) drama, said, the only anthology drama series in North America. Single dramas perform three functions in television: a forum for development of new talent and experiment with new formulas, an outlet for creative activity not readily accommodated within the mainstream forms and conventions of television, and a form to represent contemporary concerns.

    In 1985, cbc English drama production was about 70 hours annually (a total that Kennedy aimed to raise initially to 100 hours and...

  15. 11 The Continental Culture and Canadian Television Drama: The Mini Series
    (pp. 298-326)

    American television drama exhibits more variety than is customarily acknowledged, but the melodramas ʹDynastyʹ and ʹDallasʹ are often taken as typical instances of American television-drama productions. Both series are organized around an endless process of conflict and reconciliation performed by icons – Blake, Alexis, Kristal, Sue Ellen, J.R., and so on. These icons have few of the characteristics that, as the etymology suggests, pertain to character. They are not individuated as are those who people novelist fictions, such as Huck Finn, Dorothea Brooke, or Fabrizio del Dongo, but rather symbolize a set of fixed values whose meanings are articulated in...

  16. 12 Conclusion
    (pp. 327-344)

    A central thesis in nationalist theory is that language and culture play a crucial role in the formation of national identity and consciousness. This notion conforms to a general tendency in twentieth-century political theory to cede to ideas the central role in the life and death of social organizations. Now, it is to consent rather than duress that we customarily look when seeking to understand how particular societies and institutions maintain themselves. The emphasis on the role of culture and ideas has constituted the mass media, and particularly television, as central agencies in the production and reproduction of social relations....

  17. References
    (pp. 345-358)
  18. Index
    (pp. 359-367)