As historians we feel comfortable in archives, studying written sources. Yet, the concept of mediatization shows us that especially the 19 th and 20th century saw a rise of different media and their impact on society and culture. Each of these media has its own particularities and implications and should ... (Show more)
As historians we feel comfortable in archives, studying written sources. Yet, the concept of mediatization shows us that especially the 19 th and 20th century saw a rise of different media and their impact on society and culture. Each of these media has its own particularities and implications and should be studied in relation to other sources. In different ways and forms, moving images have had, and still have, an actual impact on rural and agricultural society. Therefore we should also integrate these kind of sources to fully understand agricultural and rural society since the 1920s. Likewise, television in Belgium affected this reality in different ways since the 1950s. By considering these audiovisual sources, we extend our range of information, which can bring new insights that cannot be found in written sources. It provides us with a way to see and hear agricultural society, the farmers, their families and their households, giving us a wide set of new research possibilities.
Since 1981 the Belgian public television provided time slots for intermediary structures. The Belgian Farmers’ League (Boerenbond) took this opportunity to found the Agrarian Television and Radio Broadcaster (ATRO, Agrarische Televisie en Radio Omroep). Until 1997 they produced short clips with an approximate length of 20 minutes. This wasn’t the only television production Boerenbond was involved in. Already in 1958 they launched ‘For Farmer and Horticulturist’ (“Voor Boer en Tuinder”), obviously, these productions were aimed at the farmers themselves and depicted all kinds of subjects related to the management of a farm.
ATRO however, originated from the idea that the farmers’ image was declining. The series were thus aimed at the non-agrarian public in order to improve agriculture’s reputation. This was done by showing the farmers’ daily life: which difficulties they had to deal with, how new regulations affected their business, their participation in different organizations in the village, family life, … By doing so, ATRO tried to ‘humanize’ the farmers’ image as opposed to the perceived image of the ‘always complaining farmer’. In this paper we will look deeper into which themes Boerenbond promoted in these episodes and why these themes in particular were chosen. How did they put these subjects to the screen and which arguments and imagery was used to communicate the message? Since ATRO was just one of the parties which were given airtime, only a couple of episodes per year were released. This makes these moving images an interesting case study to study the mediatization of the farmer in Flanders over time. (Show less)