A 1980s and 1990s Media History Manifesto

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This articles fires the starting shot to embrace 1980s and 1990s media histories and put them prominently on our research agenda. The 1980s and 1990s have been termed the ‘wonder years,’ when such media technologies as Teletext, the Walkman, the fax, and answering machine became part of everyday life. Moreover, these decades were pivotal, witnessing momentous societal developments that continue to affect us to this day, such as the advent of neoliberalism. Though media are an ideal prism to shed light on such developments, there is scant attention for this era in extant media-historical scholarship. Therefore, this article is an intervention that strives to foster media-historical research into the eighties and nineties. Taking stock of tendencies in media and media-historical scholarship, it highlights three general shortcomings of extant research that thwart a better understanding of this era. First, there is a lack of sociocultural contextualisation. Second, there is a tendency to focus on winners, rather than ‘dead’ or ‘obsolete’ media. Third, an overemphasis on ‘newness’ has led scholars to neglect important media. By means of concrete examples and case studies, particularly pertaining to the Netherlands, this article leads the way to future directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalTMG - Journal for Media History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2023

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