So how can the effects of television be disentangled from all others? This book, "The Impact of Television" exploited a unique situation to do so. There was a town in central British Columbia that could not get TV because it was situated in a remote valley. BC is quite mountainous and TV signals don't carry far. In 1973 the town elders convinced the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC, the official channel) to install a transmitter just for them. The town would get hit with television not in its early formative stage, but in its mature and virulent form. Tannis MacBeth Williams, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, heard about the installation, and decided to test the hypotheses about the effects of television by looking at the town before and after TV arrived.
Now, hard science types routinely denigrate sociology for its lack of controlled experiments, ignoring the fact that all field sciences have the same problem. Astronomers don't get to try out different galactic structures in the lab, nor do geologists get to bang continents together to see what happens. Like sociologists, they have to find the reasons for things from studying them as they are. In this case, however, there was a beautiful example of a community where the effect of a change in one variable could be observed.
Williams and twelve other faculty and students from UBC did extensive surveys around the town, which she... [continues]
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