The explosion of services such as Netflix, Spotify, Disney+, Apple Music, Amazon Prime and YouTube allows access to content at the click of a button. It also has turned the norms surrounding cultural consumption upside down.
David Arditi, associate professor of sociology at The University of Texas at Arlington whose research focuses on the intersection of culture and technology, wondered how this shift to an unending supply of content affected the way we consume our favorite shows, blockbuster movies and new albums.
In his new book, Streaming Culture: Subscription Platforms and the Unending Consumption of Culture, Arditi explores the complex and ever-evolving relationship that exists between culture and technology.
“The way we consume culture and how we think about our culture is being impacted by streaming culture,” Arditi said. “Anyone can read this book. You don’t have to be a sociology scholar.”
Loaded with examples that will speak to every type of media consumer, Arditi’s book outlines the extensive impact of streaming services to help readers understand modern digital society and learn more about the fundamentally changing structure of capitalism.
Arditi said he began working on the book before the COVID-19 pandemic but wrote the majority of it over the spring and summer of 2020 when lockdown was in full effect.
“During the pandemic, it got me thinking about the way we experience moments and how that experience has changed since television first came out and only three channels existed,” he said. “Culture is the process by which we as people make symbolic meaning out of everyday things. So the experience during that time when everyone was only consuming one of three TV channels is drastically different than this unending consumption of culture that we have available to us now. The cultural world is at our fingertips.”