Hollywood and the film development process: The influence of social networks and industry structure on content decisions

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Social networks, Film, Media sociology, Movies, Entertainment, Filmmaking, Hollywood

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Business | Communication | Film and Media Studies | Marketing | Mass Communication | Social and Behavioral Sciences


What shapes the choices that go into the film development process? Why do certain types of films get produced while others never see the light of day? To understand this some have looked at the audience and the role that demand plays in driving Hollywood's business decisions. Others have studied the creative process, delving into the relationship between creativity and content decisions. Missing in both cases, however, is any analysis of the industry itself--the way that organizations align, the type of people that participate (and are prevented from participating), and the way that individuals and organizations interact. It is this aspect of the industry--its structure and the role this structure plays in guiding behavior--that is the focus of this study.

The filmmaking process consists of three phases--development, production, and distribution. During each stage a network consisting of organizations and individuals forms, its purpose to fulfill those tasks necessary to move to the next phase. Through the application of social network analysis and media sociology, this study examines the development phase, exploring how development networks function as well as the role they play in influencing the decision making process. The data collected demonstrates that these network structures guide and shape decision making, leading to routinized behavior patterns; create institutional barriers to participation, resulting in little diversity both demographically and psychographically; and drive the development of relationships--both between organizations and individuals--that defines what is and isn't produced in Hollywood.


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