The proliferation of cable television in Israel through independent infrastructures has provided a unique opportunity for a quasi-experimental study on audience response, and Israeli families in particular, to a new media technology. Cable television subscription in Israel differs from non-cable households in the sense that cable television provides more individual viewing situations and encourages solitary TV viewing, and therefore should be considered a new media technology. This study examines various family characteristics and their ability to predict the extent to which families use the new technology for socialization. Data concerning family characteristics, duration of cable TV subscription and the extent families use television for instrumental, integrative and educational purposes, were collected from 254 urban families in 11 neighborhoods in the main cities of Israel.
The results support the structural functional theory of communication as opposed to the technological, deterministic theory of communication. Subscription to cable television did not prove to be a significant predictor of the extent to which Israeli urban families use television to fulfill major socialization purposes. Family characteristics were found to influence the socializing role of cable television. The study reveals associations between certain family characteristics and the kind of socialization role (instrumental, integrative or educational) that television plays in the family. Cable television, by now a well-established feature in many households, may be considered a test case, and its current uses in the family an indication of the implications regarding the introduction of newer media technologies such as the PC and the Internet, and their potential socialization purposes within families.
© Walter de Gruyter