The Powers of the Pokémon:
Histories of Television, Histories of the Concept of Power

Mark Gibson, Culture and Communication, Murdoch University


Television studies has always been haunted by the concept of power, caught in a dilemma between Frankfurtian pessimism and a vulnerability to charges of a cheerful 'banality'. The paper suggests a new perspective on this problem by introducing a distinction between theories of power (in the singular) and a more differentiated attention to plural powers. The latter approach can be traced as an emerging possibility in 'post-Cold War' formations in popular culture - the example discussed here being Pokémon. The paper further suggests that television studies might learn something from this development. The way is opened, specifically, for questions of power to be considered in a historical, rather than theoretical, mode. Such an approach offers an alternative to remaining caught in what have become increasingly repetitive and unproductive debates about power.

New: 20 September, 2001 | Now: 6 May, 2015