Television's Impact on Popular Leisure
TELEVISION'S IMPACT ON POPULAR LEISURE
One of the most significant social trends during the last half of the twentieth century involved the rise of television (TV) as the dominant leisure time activity for most people in nations where TV was widely available. This trend was especially strong in the United States, where TV occupied about 40 percent of leisure time for most Americans in the early twenty-first century. This translates into an average of three hours of TV viewing per day; although some of this viewing is done while engaging in other activities. Many theorists and researchers have sought to explain how TV has come to dominate leisure time. Others have tried to assess the consequences. This essay reviews their arguments below and has documented in detail how leisure time has come to be dominated by TV.
TV can be regarded as the latest in a series of advances in communications technology that have enabled mediated forms of communication to gradually displace older forms of leisure activity, including many activities that involved face-to-face or group communication. Researchers have argued that these media gradually displaced neighborhood gossip and family story-telling. Urban workers had difficulty fitting traditional communication activities into their regimented lives. Print media came to substitute for conversations with family and friends because they could be used whenever and wherever some free time was available. Also, urban workers had often been displaced from rural communities, were cut off from traditional social groups, and so were forced to find other ways of satisfying communication needs.
This basic formula was repeated again and again with the introduction of media that were capable of simulating an ever greater range and variety of leisure activities. Instead of engaging in amateur sports or games, people became spectators for mass mediated professional sports. In many cases, displacement of older forms of leisure activity took place because these activities became harder to pursue due to structural changes in working and living conditions. In general, media-based leisure activity was more flexible and could be more easily adapted to constraints on time and place.
The appearance of radio, phonographs, and movies in the 1920s and 1930s was accompanied by important changes in leisure time activity. These media had attributes that overcame the limitations of print media. Most importantly, it was no longer necessary to be literate to use these media. In general, print media had to be purchased, but once the radio was paid for, the content was free. Radio and phonographs could be used at home at any time of the day. Movies provided a very attractive medium for story-telling that easily displaced competing media. In the 1930s, the popularity of radio was further enhanced by its ability to quickly deliver news about a very problematic social world beset by widespread economic depression and political conflict.
By the time that TV emerged as a mass medium in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mass media already were an important means of filling leisure time. During the decade after its introduction, TV displaced other mass media from newspapers, movies, and radio to books and magazines. All of the competing media industries had to be reorganized during the 1960s to survive as TV took away their audiences and advertising revenue. Most survived by eliminating content or services that competed directly with TV. Radio stopped broadcasting dramatic content that told stories and shifted its focus to music. In what was for many years a losing battle for a mass audience, the movie industry expanded the size of the viewing screen and improved the sound. Newspapers tried to provide in-depth coverage of news stories introduced on TV. Magazines stopped distributing mass entertainment content and focused on delivering specialized entertainment and information. TV became the dominant mass medium and all other media adapted to fill niches left to them by TV.
By the middle of the 1960s and into the 1970s, research on how Americans spend their leisure time began to document even more profound changes in the way that TV filled spare time. With the introduction of color TV in the 1970s, TV did not merely displace other media, it began to displace a variety of leisure activities that had survived the introduction of older mass media. By the 1980s, TV use peaked in part because it had already absorbed such a large part of leisure time. In the 1980s and 1990s, the spread of cable- and satellite-based TV, and the accompanying expansion in the variety of TV content available, did little to alter the overall amount of TV use. The introduction of computer-based media such as the Internet in the 1990s again expanded the overall amount of time spent with media.
Media researchers developed a variety of theories in an effort to understand the consequences of how TV altered use of leisure time. One of the most important and enduring debates over the consequences of TV use focuses on TV as a medium for mass entertainment. From its introduction, TV has been criticized as providing an inferior form of mass entertainment that had many problematic consequences. Some of the earliest and most devastating criticisms of mass entertainment were offered by Frankfurt School scholars, who moved to the United States from Germany in the 1930s to escape the Nazis. They brought with them a deeply skeptical and pessimistic view of the power of mass media to mislead and deceive mass audiences. Frankfurt School theorists such as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno argued that mass media debased high culture content when they created and distributed inferior reproductions. High culture was transformed into mass culture. Mass culture content had lost its power to enlighten or educate; it could merely entertain. Because this content was so attractive, it served to distract people from seeking out better forms of culture. Harold Mendelsohn offered an early defense of mass entertainment. He argued that the critics of mass entertainment were largely members of an elite that refused to acknowledge the many useful purposes that mass entertainment served for average persons. Average persons can not afford the cost of and do not have easy access to high cultural content. Media such as radio and TV provide a low cost alternative to live theatrical performances, museums, or orchestra concerts. Average persons often seek through entertainment media the opportunity to play and escape from the problems of everyday life, and they are not necessarily looking for high culture offerings that may educate or enlighten. TV provides an ideal way to do this at low cost, without having to leave home.
The debate over mass entertainment continued and intensified as television gained popularity. Mass media in general, and TV in particular, were accused of fostering mass culture in which free time was largely used for escapism and commodity consumption. Cultural historian Christopher Lasch describes how "the appearance in history of an escapist conception of 'leisure' coincides with the organization of leisure as an extension of commodity production." Thus, he sees "the same forces that have organized the factory and the office have organized leisure as well, reducing it to an appendage of industry" (p. 217).
From its introduction, television has been a premier medium for selling commodities, showcasing new kinds of life-styles and leisure activities for millions of Americans. Television programming not only rejected the tragic view of life, but also promoted the notion of the "quick fix," in which problems are solved within the context of a thirty-minute show or remedied through consumption of advertised products. Things happen quickly on television because commercial sponsors want the widest possible audiences, including people with short attention spans who require little complexity. These quick fixes often featured portrayals of violence and sexuality, and it was usually an enterprising, engaging and heroic individual, rather than a group or organization, who solved problems.
Television brought an endless variety of attractive material goods to the attention of viewers through advertising, and success and happiness were equated with the use of these products.
In many ways, television worked against the traditional middle-class values of delayed gratification and the work ethic. Both television commercials and programming taught Americans that they could have what they wanted, now. Television is believed to have affected the Baby Boom generation, the first generation raised with TV, in three distinct ways. First, it separated the Baby Boomers from traditional social elders, teaching them lessons without the intervention of parents or teachers. TV was the predominant storyteller for this generation. Second, it presented a world that was remarkably similar from channel to channel, referred to as the Golden Age of network TV by its defenders or as a "vast wasteland" by critics such as Federal Communications Commission chairman Newton Minnow. This generation was the first to share a homogeneous, common mass culture that reached all regions of a diverse nation. Finally, television violence, which was so much more prevalent than the violence in real life, created a sense of fear about the world. Television may have led to Americans "amusing ourselves to death," to use Neil Postman's publication title.
In the 1990s, George F. Gilder provided an assessment of TV that summarizes its major failings as an entertainment medium according to its current critics:
Television is not vulgar because people are vulgar; it is vulgar because people are similar in their prurient interests and sharply differentiated in their civilized concerns. All of world history is moving increasingly toward more segmented markets. But in a broadcast medium, such a move would be a commercial disaster. In a broadcast medium, artists and writers cannot appeal to the highest aspirations and sensibilities of individuals, manipulative masters rule over huge masses of people. (p.49)
According to contemporary critics such as Gilder, although cable and home video use has allowed more individual choice in programming, most of television remains a "top down" managed medium, providing noninteractive entertainment and other programming on a few channels. Increasingly, cable is organized in terms of alliances between channels owned or co-owned by a handful of large corporations. Similar mass entertainment content is produced and shared (repurposed) across sets of channels. Mass culture is being distributed in new ways but it retains many of its older attributes and functions.
The impact of increased time spent viewing television is reflected in domestic architecture. Consider the savage assessment of architecture scholar James Howard Kunstler:
The American house has been TV-centered for three generations. It is the focus of family life, and the life of the house correspondingly turns inward, away from whatever occurs beyond its four walls. (TV rooms are called "family rooms" in builders' lingo. A friend who is an architect explained to me: "People don't want to admit that what the family does together is watch TV.") At the same time, the television is the family's chief connection with the outside world. The physical envelope of the house itself no longer connects their lives to the outside in any active way; rather, it seals them off from it. The outside world has become an abstraction filtered through television, just as the weather is an abstraction filtered through air conditioning. (p.167)
Elite criticism of television remains a popular sport for pundits, and as a mass medium television is an easy and obvious scapegoat for almost any problem in society. Harder evidence of the consequences of TV use has come from the social sciences in the past three decades. From cultivation theory and "mean world" hypothesis, to Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's evidence that television fosters viewer passivity and grumpy moods after viewing, to evidence that television has played a role in reducing The United States' stock of "social capital." All of this research suggests that when television occupies too much time in people's lives, the results can be quite problematic.
George Gerbner provides evidence that when people view TV for more than six hours per day, their views of the social world reflect a growing belief that the social world is like what they see on TV—a world where white males wield power and racial minorities provide comic relief; a world where crime and disease are rampant and must be dealt with by heroic police officers, lawyers, and doctors.
Arguments concerning the role of TV in the loss of social capital are especially troubling. Robert Putnam points out that as TV was coming to dominate leisure time in the 1960s and 1970s, more and more people were abandoning their involvement in many different types of formal and informal social groups. According to Putnam, this trend has important consequences for American democracy. Through much of this nation's national history, social groups have brought together people from different racial, cultural, social, and political backgrounds. From fraternal organizations to amateur athletic associations, these groups enabled people to get to know each other as human beings and to develop friendships that spanned racial or ethnic divisions. These informal relationships provided "social capital" that could later be used as a resource when communities faced difficult or divisive political issues and controversies. People who knew and trusted each other could negotiate solutions and accept compromises. The archetype informal social group, according to Putnam, is the bowling league. Participation in such leagues has been in steady decline. Increasingly, bowlers bowl alone and amateur athletes watch sports on TV.
Putnam's views inspired considerable research and praise, but were also criticized as providing a superficial explanation of complex structural changes in American society. Research in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicated that when definitive research is done, TV will not be found to be a powerful corrosive force that operated in isolation to undermine U.S. social structure. Rather, it is likely that TV provided an easy and quite attractive way to spend time freed up as informal social groups declined for other reasons. If TV had not been there, that decline might have been more widely noticed. People would have had a harder time finding ways to spend their time.
Television has become an important way in which people experience the world, much as hypothesized. Television coverage boosted public support for the space program and the civil rights movement, reshaped public opinion about Vietnam, and made celebrities of many ordinary people. Russell W. Neuman documented how viewers of popular prime-time programs do become actively involved in the plots of programs and do subject them to critical thinking. His research findings are consistent with a large body of research based on uses and gratifications theory. This research demonstrates that TV use stimulates levels of interest and involvement, but the research has also been unable to link this use to any consistent long-term consequences.
Thus, although television has been widely criticized, it remains immensely popular and does engage its audiences. It is ideally suited to taking up small gains in free time. This, then, is where most of the action in time-use dynamics has occurred—and where it can expected it to occur in the future.
Changes in Daily Life Associated with Television
Accurate measurement of how people spend time is a challenging task. One of the most scientifically reliable and valid techniques for measuring time use is the time diary. Surveys that use time diaries to collect data ask that respondents fill out a detailed listing of their activities during a single day. In addition to reporting the time spent on each activity, respondents also report if other people were involved and where the activity took place.
In 1965, an ambitious, multinational project used time diaries to measure time use in twelve nations. In all, thirty thousand persons in twelve nations in North America, Europe, and Latin America were participated in the time-use survey. In the United States, a cross-section sample of Americans was interviewed. Surveys in some other nations, however, were limited to specific cities. In the United States, subsequent surveys of a cross-section of Americans have been conducted every ten years as part of The Americans' Use of Time Project, housed at the University of Maryland. This ongoing research provided an interesting baseline data in 1965, at a time when TV was still relatively new in some nations. Subsequent surveys in 1975 and 1985 in the United States provided insight into how daily life changed as the popularity of TV increased. When the daily activities of television owners and non-owners in the 1965 multinational time-diary study were compared, remarkable similarities were found in the post-TV behaviors of set owners across the twelve nations in the study. European countries were in earlier stages of television diffusion than the 95 percent saturation levels in the United States at the time. Non-owners of TV were heavily concentrated in eastern European nations. Thus, it was possible to study the impact of television by contrasting how owners and non-owners were spending their time. Ideally, it would have been better to compare the same people before and after television acquisition, as T. E. Coffin did, but the 1965 rates of set ownership did vary between 25 percent in Bulgaria and 80 percent in Germany, providing a broad range of respondents in societies at various stages of the television adoption process.
Table 1 shows results from this owner/non-owner comparison using the international time-diary data. In brief, it shows that television owners in almost all societies were spending less time than non-owners in "functionally equivalent" activities: eight minutes less listening to the radio, six minutes less reading books, three minutes less going to the movies, and three minutes less watching television in other people's homes. But they were also spending less time in the non-media free-time activities of socializing (twelve minutes less), hobbies and other leisure activities (six minutes less), and conversation (five minutes less).
More interesting were the changes in non-free-time activities, because these changes could not be accounted for by simple displacement of functionally equivalent forms of communication. Instead, television owners spent thirteen minutes less time sleeping, six minutes less gardening, and five minutes less on laundry and personal grooming. Such differences were not found in all societies or social groups, but they are not the types of changes in activities one might have predicted would result from the advent of television.
Even larger differences were found for secondary activities: there was a twenty-two-minute decline in radio listening, offset by an almost equivalent rise in secondary TV viewing (that is, watching TV while doing something else). Television owners also spent ten to thirty minutes less time alone, and twenty minutes more time with their spouses and children (thus perhaps inadvertently promoting a new form of family life, as described by John P. Robinson in 1990. In line with the declines in socializing with friends and relatives, contact time with friends and neighbors was also lower for TV owners. Equally impressive differences were found by location, with TV owners spending more than half an hour more time at home indoors than non-owners, mainly at the expense of spending time in the yard, in other people's homes, and on the streets. Television did bring people home, but indoors rather than outdoors.
|1965–85 Differences in activities of TV owners vs. non-owners|
|(In minutes per day. Data are weighted to ensure equality of days of the week and respondents per household across 13 countries.)|
|1. Main job||254.2||253.2||+1.0|
|2. Second job||3.7||4.1||-0.4|
|3. At work other||10.6||10.8||-0.2|
|4. Travel to job||28.2||28.4||-.2|
|6. Home chores||57.9||58.1||-0.2|
|9. Animal, garden||11.5||17.6||-6.1|
|11. Other house||19.1||20.8||-1.7|
|Total Household Care||-6.5|
|12. Child care||17.9||16.8||+1.1|
|13. Other child||11.5||10.1||+1.4|
|Total Child Care||+2.5|
|14. Personal care||55.0||59.5||-4.5|
|Total Personal Needs||-16.9|
|17. Personal travel||18.4||19.0||-0.6|
|18. Leisure travel||16.4||20.5||-4.1|
|Total Non-Work Travel||-4.7|
|Total Study & Participation||-3.4|
|23. TV (home)||86.5||7.3||+79.2|
|24. TV (away)||1.1||4.0||-2.0|
|25. Read paper||15.2||15.3||-0.1|
|26. Read magazine||3.9||5.4||-1.5|
|27. Read books||8.3||14.1||-5.8|
|Total Mass Media||+57.5|
|29. Social (home)||14.6||11.7||+2.9|
|30. Social (away)||22.4||33.9||-11.5|
|32. Active sports||2.4||2.6||-0.2|
|35. Cultural events||1.0||1.1||-0.1|
|37. Other leisure||16.7||21.9||-5.2|
|Total Minutes Per Day||1440.0||1440.0||0.0|
When similar comparisons with other household technologies were made, these television differences became even more impressive. For example, no systematic or important differences were found in the time spent traveling by people who owned cars and those who did not, nor were there lower (or higher) travel times in societies with more cars. In much the same way, there was little difference in the housework activities of societies that had greater or lower access to household technology. These appliances may have reduced labor, but not the time doing housework, much as James Morgan, Ismail Sirageldin, and Nancy Baerwaldt found in 1966.
Having a TV set in the home, then, was associated with a virtual doubling of time spent with the media as a primary activity, from 1.1 hours per day to 2.1 hours per day. Differences of a similar magnitude were found in the pre-post television study conducted over a six-month period of peak television diffusion in Fort Wayne, Indiana. T. E. Coffin found that the 160-minute daily gain in viewing time (as a primary or secondary activity) was accompanied by a seventy-minute loss in daily radio-listening and a fourteen-minute loss in reading magazines and newspapers. This suggests that television's impact can be dramatically captured directly in terms of how people spend time.
1975 Differences in Viewing
The 1965 multinational data provided the basis for another conclusion about television time—that American television viewing had apparently reached its peak in the 1960s. At the time, researchers concluded that, while Americans watched more television than residents of other countries, that fact was mainly a function of the higher ownership of sets in the United States. On a perowner basis, viewers in other countries watched virtually as much as Americans did. Moreover, when Americans were asked if they wanted to watch more television, or would have watched more if there had been better programs available on the diary day, only about 10 percent said they wanted to watch more or would watch more. Thus, there seemed to be little reason to expect that Americans would increase their 10 hours of weekly television viewing. Since 96 percent had television sets in 1965, television seemed to be a "mature" medium with a well-established audience.
The 1975 diary data provided a rude shock. They showed that TV viewing had increased to nearly 15 hours per week, about the same five-hour gain that was found for free time. At first, this was believed to be simply a coding error, so a separate set of new coders recoded both the 1975 and the 1965 diaries. The recoded results, however, matched the original results almost identically. People were now reporting 50 percent more television viewing in their 1975 diaries.
Other explanations were sought: longer broadcast days allowing fringe viewing, more independent stations that were now broadcasting, and the early availability of cable television. While these accounted for some of the difference, the major factor associated with more viewing was the availability of color sets, something that was still a rarity in 1965. Whether it was a side effect of color television per se, or the characteristics of those who bought color sets, is not clear, but it was apparent that television had made dramatic new inroads on people's use of time, beyond its original significant impact.
In 1975, moreover, television's gain did not come mainly at the expense of other free-time activities. The main activities to show a decline between 1965 and 1975 were paid work and housework. How much of a direct trade-off was involved is not clear. It is not known to what extent people were cutting corners on these two productive activities to satisfy their appetites for what was on television. It is possible that once again the availability of an attractive mass medium provided people with an easy way of filling time freed up by a reduced work-week and labor saving household technology. Nevertheless, the two trends in decreased productivity at work and at home and increased television use did occur in the same decade.
One free-time activity—newspaper reading—did decline dramatically between 1965 and 1975, and that decline did seem to be television induced. The decline seemed to be a direct byproduct of the increased popularity of local news programs over the same time. These local news broadcasts did have the advantage over local newspapers, in terms of a trained new army of "news consultants," who relied extensively on audience surveys to put newscasters in touch with potential viewers in ways that traditional newspaper journalists could never imagine. Also during this era, newspapers were seeking to reduce the number of low-income readers so that they could provide advertisers with a higher quality audience. Prices were increased and distribution in low-income areas was reduced. The loss in newspaper-reading time was almost directly mirrored in the increased diary time spent watching local news programs. It is interesting that the losses were greater among older newspaper readers than among younger readers reared on television.
As TV viewing went up, what activities showed decline? There were few positive correlations between most activities and television viewing. Of course, people who watched television more worked less, but they also did less housework, did less shopping, and ate out less—and participated less in almost all away-from-home free-time activities: adult education, religion, cultural events, socializing, and recreation. Ironically, television time did correlate positively with activities that had been identified as earlier victims of the set: sleeping, resting, and newspaper reading.
In other words, the more people stayed home to watch, the more they did other home-based activities. Conversely, the more people watched, the less they interacted with others outside the home, particularly in the form of "social capital" activities such as socializing and organizational participation. Thus, the time use findings provide strong corroboration for the findings and conclusions offered by Robert Putnam.
1985 Differences in TV Viewing
The 1985 data, on the other hand, followed the initial 1965 expectations of viewing constancy rather well. Television viewing was up by less than one hour from 1975 levels (although mainly among women). Table 2 shows much greater growth of viewing in the 1965–1975 decade, and the greater growth of women s viewing since 1965, to the point that women were watching 92 percent as much as men in 1985 (compared with 82 percent as much in 1965). The seven-hour gain among non-employed
|1965–1996 Diary trends in use of time|
|(In hours per week)|
|*Aged 18–65, Urban, Employed Sample Only|
women was particularly pronounced, since their gain in free time was also seven hours.
The data was analyzed to look at changes in TV use by various subgroups and found above-average gains by those aged 55 to 64 (±7 hours), African Americans (+9 hours), the grade-school educated (± 7 hours), those with forty-hour workweeks (+7 hours), and the divorced-widowed (+7 hours). The lowest gains were reported by the lowest income group (+2 hours) and by those with larger numbers of children (+1–2 hours). These groups already had high levels of use in 1975. The gains were slightly lower on Sunday, but otherwise distributed equally across the week. Not one group showed a decrease or constancy in viewing levels, despite several such entries for free time. Some groups may not have gained free time across the study period, but all groups had experienced an increase in television viewing.
Television Use in 1995 and Beyond
Another cross-section of Americans completed time use diaries in 1995. Overall, this data indicated that the amount of time spent viewing television had not changed much. In some ways, this result was surprising given the radical changes that had taken place in the TV industry from 1985 to 1995. Cable television had expanded across the nation and a myriad of popular cable TV channels were providing easy availability to specialized programming. Also by 1995, computer-based media such as the Internet were beginning to come into wider use. Some researchers expected that the Internet would gradually reduce TV viewing time. Research conducted since 1995 shows that the media landscape has become quite cluttered with many new but functionally equivalent media and services. These media appear to be locked in head to head competition for an audience that is already spending as much free time as possible using media. Despite the predicted long-term "convergence" of media, the era of the early twenty-first century was one of media fragmentation. Media ownership "converged" so that most mass media content was delivered by a handful of large corporations. The delivery vehicles for media content, however, diverged.
Changes in the delivery of music may presage possible changes in other forms of mass entertainment. A stable and gradually increasing market for music delivered by radio and compact discs disintegrated as a growing number of young adults exchanged and downloaded music from the Internet. Compact disc players were challenged by a growing array of MP3 players. Radio was rapidly losing young male listeners as they turned to the Internet for music. One way of interpreting the revolution in music delivery was to take into account the increased user activity and initiative necessary to amass large libraries of music from the Internet and then organize this music for everyday use. Turning on a radio was a much easier way of getting music, but that music was necessarily standardized and programmed for a mass audience.
Does the transformation in the delivery of music mean that in the future people will turn away other forms of mass audience programming in favor of highly specialized programming tailored to specific interests? If so, television use could change as radically as radio use or CD use. Proponents of the Internet made this argument: it is possible to view Internet surfing as a do-it-yourself creation of an audiovisual experience that could rival TV viewing as a leisure activity. On the other hand, the Internet could easily become simply an extension of the TV viewing experience. The television industry was doing what it could to promote this way of using the Internet.
In the early 2000s, it was estimated that people use TV and the Internet simultaneously about 30 percent of the time. People tended to have TV sets in the same room that they used the Internet. As wireless access to the Internet grew, it became easier for more and more people to use the Internet while they watched TV. Does this mean that the two activities will converge so that one simply complements the other, or will one use dominate while the other merely provides background entertainment? Some researchers noted that Internet surfing is more like magazine reading than watching TV, but surprisingly, people who used the Internet more also tended to read more magazines. Apparently, Internet use was not functionally replacing magazine use so much as cultivating it. Will this change as the Internet delivers more and better audiovisual content?
What people do with mass entertainment content in the future should reveal a lot about what this content does for them and their commitment to it. Time use trends suggest that people worldwide find mass media generally, and TV specifically, to be quite important for their daily life. More than half of their leisure time is devoted to the use of mass media—40 percent to TV alone. But is this content so important that they will become more active in collecting, organizing, and distributing it as some young adults use music content in the early 2000s? Could such activities come to occupy an even larger proportion of leisure time? Time use data do suggest that overall use of media and mass entertainment has peaked in relation to other forms of leisure time activities. Unless there are significant changes in social structure, such as a reduction in work hours, time available for mass entertainment is somewhat fixed. The time that has been set aside for these activities, however, is so large and the means of delivering entertainment content is becoming so diverse that people could use media to pursue many different but highly interrelated leisure activities. The very popularity of mass entertainment could bring about its decline as the audience fragments and becomes ever more active in the pursuit of what entertains them most.
See also: Commercialization of Leisure; Computer's Impact on Leisure; Contemporary Leisure Patterns; Early National Leisure and Recreation; Expansion of Leisure Time; Internet; Media, Technology, and Leisure; Movies' Impact on Popular Leisure; Shortage of Leisure; Television's Impact on Youth and Children's Leisure.
Brown, Robert. J. Manipulating the Ether: The Power of Broadcast Radio in Thirties America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co., 1998.
Coffin, T. E. "Television's Impact on Society." American Psychologist 10, (1955): 630–641.
Gerbner, George, and Nancy Signorielli. Violence and Terror in the Mass Media. Paris: Unesco, 1988.
Gilder, George F. Life After Television. Rev. ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1994.
Horkheimer, Max, Theodor W. Adorno, and Gunzelin Schmid Noerr. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2002.
Kubey, Robert William, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990.
Kunstler, James Howard. Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the Twenty-First Century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
Lasch, Christopher. The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. New York: Warner Books, 1980.
McLean, Scott L., David A. Schultz, and Manfred B. Steger, eds. Social Capital: Critical Perspectives on Community and "Bowling Alone." New York: New York University Press, 2002.
McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. London: Sphere Books, 1967.
Mendelsohn, Harold A. Mass Entertainment. New Haven, Conn.: College and University Press, 1966.
Morgan, James N., Ismail Sirageldin, and Nancy Baerwaldt. Productive Americans: A Study of How Individuals Contribute to Economic Progress. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 1966.
Moy, Patricia, Dietram A. Scheufele, and R. Lance Holberts. "Television Use and Social Capital: Testing Putnam's Time Displacement Hypothesis." Mass Communication and Society 2, no. 1 (1999): 27–45.
Neuman, Russell W. "Televison and American Culture: Multiple Messages and Pluralistic Audiences." Public Opinion Quarterly 46 (December 1982): 471–487.
Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
Putnam, Robert D. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Robinson, John P. "Television and Leisure Time: Yesterday, Today, and (Maybe) Tomorrow." Public Opinion Quarterly 33 (Summer 1969): 210–222.
——. "The Impact of Television on Mass Media Usage." In The Use of Time: Daily Activities of Urban and Suburban Populations in Twelve Countries. Edited by Alexander Szalai. The Hague: Mouton, 1972.
——. How Americans Use Time: A Social-Psychological Analysis of Everyday Behavior. New York: Praeger, 1977.
——. "Television and Leisure Time: A New Scenario." Journal of Communication 31, no. 1 (1981): 120–130.
——. "Television's Effect on Families' Use of Time." In Television and the American Family. Edited by Jennings Bryant. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum Associates, 1990.
Robinson, John. P., and Geoffrey Godbey. Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Use Their Time. 2d ed. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.
Robinson, John P., and L. Jeffres. "The Great Age-Readership Mystery." Journalism Quarterly 58, no. 2 (1981): 219–224.
Robinson, John P., P. Converse, and A. Szalai. "Everyday Life in Twelve Countries." In The Use of Time: Daily Activities of Urban and Suburban Populations in Twelve Countries. Edited by Alexander Szalai. The Hague: Mouton, 1972.
Schudson, Michael. Discovering The News: A Social History of American Newspapers. New York: Basic Books, 1978.
——. Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion: Its Dubious Impact on American Society. New York: Basic Books, 1984.
Szalai, Alexander, ed. The Use of Time: Daily Activities of Urban and Suburban Populations in Twelve Countries. The Hague: Mouton, 1972.
John P. Robinson and Dennis K. Davis