Sociological Moments in the History of Netflix Open Access

Meier, Gabriella Shear (2017)

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This thesis is a case study of Netflix, the popular media organization that rose to prominence during the first two decades of the 21st century. I begin by tracing the history of the company. This historical overview serves to familiarize the reader with the main cast of characters (e.g., the founders, competing organizations) and other background information relevant to the present study. Next, drawing upon different theories from the discipline of sociology, I analyze selected "moments" or episodes in the evolution of the company and its impact on the larger society. These theories include institutional isomorphism (from organizational sociology), invasion- succession (from urban sociology), and moral panics (from the sociology of media and social problems). My goal is to show how the specific example of Netflix is pedagogically useful for illustrating general theoretical concepts in sociology. In the concluding section of the thesis, I reflect upon the value and limitations of the case-study approach as a method for examining general theory.

Table of Contents

Historical Background 1

Growth and Change 7

The Era of Streaming Technology 12

Recent Developments 16

Changing Technology and Institutional Isomorphism 19

Coercive and Mimetic Isomorphism 20
Hulu: An Example of Coercive Isomorphism 22

Amazon Studios: An Example of Mimetic Isomorphism 26

Institutional Legitimacy 29

Blockbuster, Netflix, and Invasion-Succession 31

"Binge-Watching" as Moral Panic 34

Defining Moral Panics 35
Streaming and Binging 37
Defining Binge-Watching 38
Individual and Societal Harm 39

Possible Benefits of Binge-Watching 44

Discussion and Conclusion 45

Methodological Concerns 46

Netflix Going Forward 48

References 51

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