Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
This research investigates contemporary conceptual understandings of Hollywood and Community, seeking to understand how the two, independently and in relation to each other, are made real for the participants ("insiders") engaged in the American film and television industry. The ethnographic field research was conducted over a period of eighteen consecutive months and supplemented by return visits over three of the years that followed. Data collection took place in locations where "Hollywood" was performed, primarily in Los Angeles, California, but also in the State of Utah and Cannes, France. I used anthropological methods, such as interviews and participant-observation, as well as what I term a "working methodology" that required working in a variety of short-term jobs as a means to access the population of study. This working methodology provided unique insight into the critical element of positionality in Hollywood and situated me as an "insider" at times in my own research.
This exploratory research concentrates on "locating" Hollywood in a discussion that seeks to capture the invisible complexity of a map that is both literal and imagined: a "place" made up of social and economic networks, marked spaces, and historical connections to a literal landscape. The research suggests that Hollywood is perceived to be a community and, that community membership is defined by work and co-constructed through a dynamic of insider/outsider interaction. An individual's relationship to, and perception of, the Hollywood community is heavily influenced by her position as well by discursive tropes of Hollywood recognized by "insiders". The presentation of data is organized around examples that index Hollywood, in particular for "insiders": Hollywood-speak, time as it is perceived in the setting of Hollywood, and the material culture that is locally called "S.W.A.G.". The idea of Hollywood -- whether as an industry, an institution, or a myth -- has proven its staying-power over time, so too has the idea of Community. Both may prove to be intangible with the specifics up for debate among scholars, but both can also be expected to remain in public discourse and popular imagination for a long time to come.
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Copyright 2010 Sarah Sachiko Ono