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Alternative video at a crossroads: Towards a strategy of extended participation

Carlos I Fontes, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The study of alternative video has been characterized by micro analyses of individual experiences and a proliferation of imprecise terms. This dissertation is a macro level study of the phenomenon of alternative video, based on the analysis of 72 organizations, accessed through documents and interviews with 42 representatives of organizations and leaders from around the world. The relationship between video technology and progressive social practices is theorized. The various concepts being used in the alternative video literature and their corresponding practices are defined and systematized. The development of the alternative video movement worldwide is described and analyzed. Appendices present a detailed listing of the different types of alternative video organizations studied, a systematization of the distinct practices which make up alternative video, and a listing of national, regional, and global alternative video organizations and organizational structures. This dissertation argues that video's potential to mediate time, if actualized, is key to the development of collective praxis. The concept of extended participation is advanced, and the concepts of video process and video product are redefined. Popular video and alternative video are theorized in relation to grassroots struggles, the opposition to mainstream commercial television, and the development of a social project against hegemony. It is argued that a global movement of alternative video is forming, and that this movement is standing at a crossroads between two strategies. The first is a participatory strategy based on uses of video articulated with grassroots struggles. The second is a mass video strategy based on video tactics seeking infiltration into existing structures of television. This dissertation recommends a third videotelevision strategy combining principles of popular participation with the widespread reach necessary for the development of an anti-hegemonic project of society. The dissertation concludes that the alternative video movement suggests the possibility of a global alternative to hegemonic global forces.

Subject Area

Mass media

Recommended Citation

Fontes, Carlos I, "Alternative video at a crossroads: Towards a strategy of extended participation" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709595.