9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN18 Sociology of Communications and Media Research

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 National Media and Sef-Observations II Building AA, AA.325

Bringing up Father: The Italian Habit of Buying Format and the Repercussions in the National Television Industry

In this paper I will explore the productive world that creates Italian television serials. My focus is on the interactional contexts of work, the relationships between the actors engaged in this "cultural industry system" (Hirsch, 1972), and the organizational strategies that regulate the creation and circulation of this ?artefact? that is becoming more and more widespread in the Italian programming schedule. I want to discuss, above all, how buying formats from abroad to re-adapt for (expected) Italian tastes can impact productive work, national creativity and the skills required of the writers, and how it can generate a new ?struggle? between the main poles of this cultural "field", in particular, creativity and power.

To address these questions, my discussion will draw upon three main lines of research:
- an historical overview of the television industry system;
- the description of the social organization for constructing a story for the small screen in the contemporary industry;
- the analysis of the different points of view among the persons involved in this work for the case of adapting format instead of improve an original made in Italy production.

My theoretical background includes the production of culture perspective (Peterson and Anand, 2004), that has been applied to a range of quite different realms by now (such as music, cinematography, fashion industry, publishing, etc.), in order to understand how the expressive symbols of culture come to be; my study also draws on the key concepts of ?field? and ?world?, according respectively to Bourdieu (1992) and Becker (1982), that clearly outline the collective work that characterizes a cultural production.

I will present the first findings of my PhD research that is empirically based on a qualitative analysis which adopts multiple techniques: participant interviews (approximately forty) of screenwriters, producers, network executives, story-editors, and directors; participant observation of brainstorming sessions among the authors and official syndicate meetings; and, document analysis of concepts, ?bibles?, scripts, notes and related materials. My empirical considerations will also draw upon a historical analysis of a database I constructed that includes production details about serial programs broadcast in Italy in the last ten years.