The Meaning of Memory: Family, Class, and Ethnicity in Early Network Television Programs

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

More than their shared history in radio or their reliance on common theatrical traditions from vaudeville and ethnic theater unites the subgenre of urban ethnic working-class situation comedies. Through indirect but powerful demonstration, all of these shows arbitrated complex tensions caused by economic and social change in postwar America. They evoked the experiences of the past to lend legitimacy to the dominant ideology of the present. In the process they served important social and cultural functions, not just in returning profits to investors or attracting audiences for advertisers, but most significantly as a means of ideological legitimation for a fundamental revolution in economic, social, and cultural life. (Lipsitz, 356)

About the Author

George Lipsitz is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He studies social movements, urban culture, and inequality. His books include "MIDNIGHT AT THE BARRELHOUSE, FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK, THE POSSESSIVE INVESTMENT IN WHITENESS, A LIFE IN THE STRUGGLE, and TIME PASSAGES." Lipsitz serves as chairman of the board of directors of the African American Policy Forum and is a member of the board of directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance. He received his Ph.D in history at the University of Wisconsin.

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