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Television as a Domestic Technology Essay


If the efforts to revitalize television in the digital era are to materialize, television viewers will ultimately be required to be conversant with the set-top box (a novel consumer technology) which provides unprecedented means of consuming television. There is no doubt that this type of technology entails assimilation of new media technology into the household settings.

More importantly, it also facilitates amplification of an interactive techno-culture among domestic consumers of television. Consequently, interactivity must have a positive effect on the manner in which television consumers use this technology in their daily lives (Petersen and Kim 74).

Therefore, the main focus of this paper is to discuss the manner in which television is used as a domestic technology. This paper will also address the primary position of television in the home and how it is by households.

Ever since the launch of digital television and the introduction of the set-top box as the modern consumer technology to replace the analogue television system, television has been cast into the limelight with respect to adjustments in the manner in which it is currently consumed by households.

It is worthy to note that the interactive television sector (the traditional media production firms as well as new players with novel business ideas) is currently facing stiff competition among the industry players in terms of who among them will develop the best ideas (Christensen 4).

Domestication refers to the manners in which consumers of television endeavor to curve a niche for the technology in their houses and make it meaningful and productive in their daily lives. In other words, the domestication of technology implies a process of adopting technology within the household environment. The concept of moral economy implies that household members have unique ways of using television set as a domestic technology (Christensen 5).

The four distinct ways used by the households are conversion, appropriation, incorporation and objectification. The conversion implies that household members alter the symbolic and functional use of the television (as a domestic technology) into a meaningful production that allows for the moral economy of the family to be integrated into the objective economy of the society at large.

On the other hand, appropriation refers to the procurement of the television technology as a domestic commodity that facilitates the integration of the objective meaning in society with the domestic moral economy. Incorporation refers to the process of assimilating the television technology into the daily routines of the household. Nonetheless, incorporation is also the subject of negotiations and conflicts with the television technology.

It also serves as an integral aspect of family members’ continuous work of creating and upholding identity within the household. Finally, objectification deals with the manner in which television (as a domestic technology) should be integrated into the daily routines of the household. In other words, it implies how the new technology should be fitted into the spatial organization of the household (Christensen 6).

It goes without saying that the consumption of television as a domestic technology is a way to describe and position household members in their unique environment into a general social perspective. Nonetheless, when the television set is openly displayed by the household, it creates an impression that can be construed in diverse ways by individuals who visit that home.

For example, the symbolic display of television as a domestic technology may be construed by different visitors as vulgar, snobbish, kitsch and stylish. As a matter of fact, the manner in which the technology (television) is displayed in the house might even cause dispute among members of the household (Christensen 7).

With respect to physically situating the technological object, the set-top box must have a phone line connection. This means that the set-box is reliant on the electrical system of the house in order to deliver an electric socket, telephone line connection as well as a television connection. There are several reasons given to explain why a television set (and not a computer) occupies the living room of the house.

One of the reasons given is that the computer is not only a goal-oriented artifact but also has lengthy cables and thus it is kept away either in the study room or in the bedroom. On the contrary, the television set is conspicuously displayed in the central living room as a symbol of prestige.

In addition, the satellite dish is a conspicuous symbol that informs the outside world that the household possesses that technology. Moreover, the set-top box will soon curve a niche among other television technologies given that it is re-arbitrating the VCR and the satellite decoding receiver while at the same time enhancing transmission and signal quality (Christensen 11).

Nonetheless, it (the set-top box) does not clearly offer a comprehensible sign to the outside world of what type of content the household is consuming unless adapted into some sort of symbolic use. Consequently, the household may be compelled to procure a pay per view program or to subscribe to a premium digital services.

As a result, the set-top box (just as the previous television did), turns into the main source of public meetings since it provides television programs that are only available to households in possession of the set-top boxes and valid subscriptions (Livingstone 60).

There is no doubt that the concept of living room (as a technical and cultural hub of the household) has experienced a number of changes. The society is currently witnessing a major development of individually owned digital media. Traditional media are now utilized in new restructuring of time and space.

At the same time, most of the households are currently in possession of several radios, telephones and televisions (Livingstone 62). Initially, majority of households had only one television set in the living room (the main meeting place for household members). However, since the emergence of media production firms such as NTL that sell multi-room viewing services, majority of television channels are now easily accessible from any room in the house.

In fact, a number of teenagers have procured better television sets for use in their personal rooms. This phenomenon has relegated the important role of the television set in the living room. In addition, the consumption of television as a domestic technology has led to the technological empowerment of the teenagers in terms of the transformation in ownership of domestic technologies.

Initially, mass media was communally consumed in the living room by all members of the household. Ever since the inception of television as a domestic technology, youths have gradually moved towards mobile consumption of media (Pemberton 10).

It is worthy to note that, many teenagers have installed computers, audio devises and television sets in their bedrooms as sources of entertainment. As of now, teenagers are using television as a domestic technology to produce a wall of sound in their personal rooms which has ultimately changed generational and gender patterns in the society.

For many parents, the adoption of television technology within the household settings is not a bad thing after all because they are in a better position to monitor their teenagers gathered in their bedrooms. In addition, television is considered a safe medium since it is able to attract a loyal and ardent audience via its memorable usability.

In others words, interactive television offers an ontological sanctuary for audience who experience problems when they attempt to gain access to relatively unfamiliar sea of information online via the use of the computer and the World Wide Web (WWW). Apart from encouraging the audience to stay tuned to a particular channel, interactive television provides safe transmission of information that has positive impacts on the viewers (Petersen and Kim 103).

Works Cited

Christensen, Holmgaard. The Impact of Interactivity on Television Consumption. Dublin: Dublin City University, 2002. Print.

Livingstone, Sonja. “New Media, New Audiences?” New Media and Society 1 (1999): 59-66.

Pemberton, Lyn. The Potential of Interactive Television for Delivering Individualized Language Learning. Brighton: University of Brighton, 2002.

Petersen, Marianne and Kim H. Madsen. “The Usability of Everyday Technology: Emerging and Fading Opportunities.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 9 (2002): 74-105.

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IvyPanda. "Television as a Domestic Technology." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/television-as-a-domestic-technology/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Television as a Domestic Technology." March 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/television-as-a-domestic-technology/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Television as a Domestic Technology'. 28 March.

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