Defining entertainment: an approach

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Journal Article
Creative Industries Journal, 2014, 7 (2), pp. 108 - 120
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© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Entertainment is a key cultural category. Yet the definition of entertainment can differ depending upon whom one asks. This article maps out understandings of entertainment in three key areas. Within industrial discourses, entertainment is defined by a commercial business model. Within evaluative discourses used by consumers and critics, it is understood through an aesthetic system that privileges emotional engagement, story, speed and vulgarity. Within academia, entertainment has not been a key organizing concept within the humanities, despite the fact that it is one of the central categories used by producers and consumers of culture. It has been important within psychology, where entertainment is understood in a solipsistic sense as being anything that an individual finds entertaining. Synthesizing these approaches, the authors propose a cross-sectoral definition of entertainment as ‘audience-centred commercial culture’.
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