Cinema Mass Consumption and the Commercialization of Youth Culture

The proposed research program aims to generate a better understanding of the role that cinema has played in the commodification of culture and the emergence of consumption-based lifestyles in relation to the emergence of post-war consumer society and against the backdrop of increased social and geographic mobility. It takes the Netherlands as a case study but in its international context.
The research centers on cinema’s core audience: teenagers and people in their early twenties. Historically, this group has dominated the audience for movies from the very beginnings of cinema presentation and thus shaped in important ways film production, distribution and exhibition. Cinema for its part has shaped youth culture, notably by 1. circulating more or less idealized images of youth and youth culture and 2. by providing youngsters a site for social exchange and sub-cultural identity formation.
While throughout history, young people have claimed and negotiated distinctive sub-cultural identities, the post-war era witnessed the rapid commercialization and institutionalization of youth culture. A major factor in this process seems to have been the spread of Americanized mass consumer culture in Europe, which in the Netherlands intersected with the process of de-pillarization (ontzuiling). For comparative perspectives, the program will draw upon case studies in Germany and Belgium (new research) and existing literature (broader international perspective).

The application will be developed around the following four central themes:
• geographic dynamics of cinema culture: centers versus peripheries
• social dynamics of consumer culture: politics of inclusion and exclusion
• cultural dynamic of film consumption and film fan culture: national versus international productions/stars; changes in reference culture
• cross-media consumption: interaction between old and new media.

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