Videoasis: The character of viewing in a video community

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Robert Bogdan


video community, mass media, motion pictures

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Mass Communication | Sociology


Videoasis: The Character of Viewing in a Video Community is a viewer's account of moving-image media in the 1990's. Located amidst the viewing context of pre-recorded video, this study seeks both to better understand the everyday practice of viewing from the standpoint of viewers, and to bring this standpoint into dialogue with organized perspectives of viewing which often serve to interpret and guide viewing practice.

Qualitative methodology--specifically a combination of participant observation sessions at an urban neighborhood video store and in-depth interviews with store patrons and workers--is employed to examine the social constructions and interpretive frameworks which surround the practice of viewing.

In the end, viewer perceptions of viewing call some conventional conceptions of viewing into question--for instance moral and theoretical conceptions founded upon deterministic notions of viewing experience. Viewer perceptions also complement other conceptions--such as the political conception of viewing as an inalienable right of democratic citizens. Overall the viewer's standpoint gathered in this study did not portray viewing as a causative phenomena, but rather as a neutral point of contact between social forces and viewer agency. Such an account of viewing suggests that many organized conceptions of viewing be rethought before future media systems are put in place.


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