TV Socialism

TV Socialism

Console-ing Passions: Television and Cultural Power

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Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 20 illustrations Published: June 2016

Author: Anikó Imre

European Studies > Eastern Europe and Russia, Media Studies > Communication, TV

In TV Socialism, Anikó Imre provides an innovative history of television in socialist Europe during and after the Cold War. Rather than uniform propaganda programming, Imre finds rich evidence of hybrid aesthetic and economic practices, including frequent exchanges within the region and with Western media, a steady production of varied genre entertainment, elements of European public service broadcasting, and transcultural, multi-lingual reception practices. These televisual practices challenge conventional understandings of culture under socialism, divisions between East and West, and the divide between socialism and postsocialism. Taking a broad regional perspective encompassing Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Imre foregrounds continuities between socialist television and the region’s shared imperial histories, including the programming trends, distribution patterns, and reception practices that extended into postsocialism. Television, she argues, is key to understanding European socialist cultures and to making sense of developments after the end of the Cold War and the enduring global legacy of socialism.


"TV Socialism is a must read for any scholars of television history, historians of socialist everyday life, those interested in memory and students exploring socialist history. Imre provides invaluable insights and poses bold questions that will stimulate debates on socialist television for years to come." — Kinga S. Bloch, H-Soz-Kult, H-Net Reviews

"... [Imre] has composed an engaging and path-breaking study offering further insight into the multiplicity of phenomena long obscured behind the notion of totalitarianism." — David Sockol, H-Socialisms, H-Net Reviews

"Anikó Imre has written a field-transforming book, with implications that reach far beyond television studies."

  — Christine E. Evans, European Journal of Cultural Studies

"...TV Socialism has as much to offer scholars of post-socialism as scholars of state socialism itself. Imre’s insightful analyses of often-trivialized popular television genres offer novel perspectives on key themes in post-socialist media studies such as nostalgia and nationalism." — Catherine Baker, Feminist Media Studies

"... this book reveals a treasure chest of televisual discourses neither positive nor negative but productively conflicting in many fascinating ways.... [W]ell worth reading and one hopes that she [Imre] is now busily engaged in the projected sequel she mentions in her conclusion." — Tony Williams, Film International

"TV Socialism is a timely and invaluable contribution to the history of everyday life in socialist Eastern Europe that poses an authoritative challenge to the standard and rigid interpretations of socialist media. " — Martin Marinos, Social History

"Apart from contributing to the still ongoing process of laying the foundation of the socialist television studies, TV Socialism is also a profoundly personal and exceptionally scholarly work, which challenges established views and places this emerging field on stable ground, providing it with a solid theoretical fabric and revealing different connections in time and space. Last but not least, its great merit is that it manages to escape the Europocentric perspective, which inevitably colours the work of so many scholars from European academic hubs." — Annemarie Sorescu Marinkovic, Balcanica

"Pathbreaking and powerfully informative." — Olga Mesropova, Russian Review

"This book’s broad and ambitious reach will catalyze further conversations not only on the medium of television but also on gender, nationalism, transnationalism, and above all on the meaning of socialism." — Diane P. Koenker, Canadian Slavonic Papers

"TV Socialism is a very fine and well written piece of research, definitely worth a read for everyone attracted by Eastern European popular culture. It offers a wonderful and always entertaining journey into the realm of socialist television, and by doing so, a journey into an audio-visual world of the past. It is a must read for anyone who is doing research in the field of television history, socialist history, not to forget those intrigued by insights into everyday socialist life." — Stefan Zimmermann, Europe Now

"A long overdue transnational inquiry of the multiple continuities of television and socialism in Central and Eastern Europe. . . . Imre masterfully delineates contemporary Eastern European anxieties about nationalism, economy, memory, and historiography since the fall of the Iron Curtain." — Sebastian Heiduschke, German Studies Review

“The main strength of TV Socialism lies in the analysis of programs themselves; it is here that Imre develops some of her most original and intriguing arguments, which will no doubt continue to shape debates on socialist television and its place in global television history for some time to come.” — Sabina Mihelj, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

"Imre’s ability to reach beyond traditional boundaries of disciplinary research makes this book a refreshing read." — Marina Vujnovic, Journal of Communication Inquiry

"The strength of Imre’s original study is in delivering many surprising findings about socialist television’s past and showing how they reverberate in post-socialist contexts." — Vana Goblot, Critical Studies in Television

TV Socialism is a comprehensive and highly original contribution to television studies, and it will become indispensable in socialist/postsocialist studies. Anikó Imre’s scholarship is superior and her book is outstanding in its breadth and depth of coverage.” — Kristen Ghodsee, author of The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe

"Cautioning us against simplistic uses of Anglo-American categories of television genres, Anikó Imre explains how the industry definitions of genre and audience expectations of genres evolved very differently in socialist societies. By defining genre as a 'transcultural form of expression' rather than as a given set of conventions, Imre demonstrates how the genric logic of television is embedded in the aesthetic, political, cultural, and ideological transformations in socialist and postsocialist societies." — Shanti Kumar, author of Gandhi Meets Primetime: Globalization and Nationalism in Indian Television


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Anikó Imre is Associate Professor and Chair of Critical Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Identity Games: Globalization and the Transformation of Media Cultures in the New Europe.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction. Why Do We Need to Talk about Socialism and TV?  1

Part I. Genres of Realism and Reality

1. From Socialist Realism to Emotional Realism  27

2. Tele-education  40

3. Crime Appeal  66

4. The Great Socialist Game (Show)  83

5. Postsocialist Ethno-Racial Reality TV  108

Part II. Genres of History

6. The Historical Adventure Drama  133

7. Postsocialist Nostalgia and European Historical Drama  155

8. Commercials as Time-Space Machines  173

Part III. Genres of Fiction

9. Women and TV  187

10. Socialist Soaps  199

Part IV. Genres of Humor

11. Socialist Comedy  227

12. (Post)socialist Political Satire  242

Afterword. Afterward  257

Notes  261

Bibliography  299

Index  311
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6099-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6085-8
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