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Universal Childhood: The Global Trade in Children's Television and Changing Ideals of Childhood

Abstract

While the technical capacity for television programs to reach worldwide has existed for decades, the attendant cultural challenges of global television have proved more formidable. Nevertheless, a handful of program genres seem to be able to overcome these cultural barriers. This paper examines one such genre, children’s television animation, the processes of program development and trade, as well as the assumptions about children’s viewing pleasures that these industrial processes encourage. While these assumptions about what is “universal” in the experience of childhood have a certain plausibility to them, they are nevertheless ideological, in the sense that they carry particular ideas about race, gender, age, class, and other forms of social grouping and identity that not only reflect but also act upon the world we live in. As some of the most powerful gatekeepers of contemporary popular culture, these industry insiders are deeply involved in imagining prevalent ideals of childhood in an increasingly globalized world as well as the kinds of children and cultures that do an do not fit these ideals

Timothy Havens

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