Abstract: Tradable Amusements: The Globalization of the Entertainment Industry and the Western World, 1776-1940

Gerben Bakker


The process of globalization in the entertainment industry was pronounced and fast. It involved the market integration of what previously was a service, but became a tradable intermediate product (exposed celluloid film) delivering a service (cinema tickets). Although the media have been discussed extensively in the popular debate on the politics of globalization, the evolution of media industries has hardly been studied from the perspective of globalization. This paper studies how popular entertainment changed from mainly a local or regional activity into first a national and then an international business, using the perspective on globalization as outlined in O'Rourke and Williamson, Globalisation and History (1999). It examines why international market integration took place around 1900 and how entrepreneurs' adoption of film technology made it happen. It will also assess the effect on the production structure of the international entertainment industry, on organization structures, and, finally, on European and American government policies (which amounted to a "political backlash").