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Struggling for legitimate meaning: Agent‐structure dynamics in German filmmaking

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Given the state sponsorship of film production in Germany, this article examines general mechanisms in the formation of meaning in German filmmaking. With reference to Schimank’s framework of agent‐structure dynamics and based on a constructivist understanding of the world, the results of 97 expert interviews with screenwriters, directors, producers, distributors, cinema theatre operators, funding representatives and public television editors, as well as document analyses, show that the medium’s construction of reality is anything but unconditioned. On the contrary, due to the fundamental role of film funding and public television in the agent constellations intertwined with social structures that shape the film production process in Germany, the medium’s key communicators are confronted with expectations that go far beyond economic parameters. More precisely, the article reveals that German filmmaking reflects a political dimension, and expresses hierarchies and constraints that prompt struggles for legitimate meaning and challenge any autonomous practice in the field.
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Keywords: German film; agent‐structure dynamics; expert interviews; formation of meaning; media policy; media production

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 000000041936973XLudwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Publication date: September 1, 2020

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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