Culture Industries and the High-Modern Conglomerate: Time Inc.’s 1970s

Richard K. Popp

In the 1970s, Time Inc. underwent a makeover in which Henry Luce’s news empire was transformed into an industrial conglomerate involved in everything from cable television to milk carton manufacturing. Thanks to this kind of diversification, it is possible to imagine living rooms scattered throughout the Sun Belt in which individuals passed their evenings with an HBO film or an issue of People magazine (both Time properties), all the while ringed by building materials – wood paneling, framing studs, and so on – also produced by Time subsidiaries. By excavating this “structure of feeling,” this paper explores the material context of cultural production in the era of the high-modern conglomerate (mid-1960s – early 1980s). It does so by analyzing the transformation of iconic media corporations, such as Time and CBS, into diversified conglomerates, as well as the entry of several “pure conglomerates,” such as Gulf+Western and Kinney National Service, into U.S. media.