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Going to the Pictures. Room for dreams in Sweden of the 1940s and 1950s
Publiceringsår: 2003
Språk: Svenska
Sidor: 328
Dokumenttyp: Doktorsavhandling
Förlag: Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion


At the end of the 1950s, at roughly the same time as television became established, Sweden had the largest number of cinemas of any country in Europe. People went to the cinema in unprecedented numbers. These places, together with the many cinemas specially built for the purpose, were to play a very important part in the accessibility and dissemination of film and cinema culture. By going to the cinema, people learned to see and experience film, and in this way the present book can be regarded as mirroring a process of institutionalization, or rather several such processes. The audiences developed their competence in going to the cinema and watching films, and they also acquired a competence that was more about living in a new age. It is not film itself but the cinema situation and its significance that is the central focus of this study. It is about how people collected pictures of film stars and read magazines, how they made preparations for the visit to the cinema, how they went there, how meetings came about or failed to come about, about buying sweets, going to a café afterwards or gathering at the hot dog stand, about the way home and the processing of the experience. It is about how young people handled and created free spaces, about forming collectives but also individuality, about experiences in a period which, just like now, was perceived as complex, unpredictable, and modern. It is also about the new consumption and the attractions of the city; what the cinema and films did to people, but above all what people did with these situations: how film actually entered everyday practice and the effects it had, although not always through the simple link between message and receiver The book mainly consists of two interwoven narratives. One tells of the cinema-going youth of the 1940s and 1950s. During the 1950s the cinemas concentrated increasingly on a youthful audience. They are viewed as a social movement towards a new Sweden. After the experiences and the new opportunities for impressions, inspired by film, among other things, there was no possibility of going back to the “old”; something new had to be created. The other narrative tells the history of institutionalization and the cinema-goers’ competence. Through the cinema one can see how overarching process in society reached down to the micro-level and affected people and their way of behaving. But because sufficiently many people actually went to the cinema and were involved in the world of film, they also became a force to be reckoned with. Seemingly trivial things helped to create a social movement because so many people took part. This involvement was a form of training for what was to come: a new age.


  • Owe Ronström (Prof.)


  • Social Sciences
  • 1940s and 1950s.
  • social movement
  • materiality
  • youth cultur
  • complexity
  • cultural competence
  • cultural identity
  • modernity
  • Cinema-going
  • picture palace
  • Cultural anthropology
  • ethnology
  • Kulturantropologi
  • etnologi


  • ISBN: 91-7139-619-5

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