At the Heart of the Culture: the Hartmans and the Roelofs: Diane F. Alters
As white, middle-class Protestants, the Hartmans and the Roelofs were firmly ensconced in American culture. What's more, they thought of themselves as at the heart of the culture, unlike the Ahmeds and the Paytons of the previous chapter. Like the Ahmeds and the Paytons, however, their "accounts of the media" were lodged within a larger frame of reference. In the Hartman family, this consisted of a set of neoevangelical religious beliefs that were distinct from those suggested in most media in which they enthusiastically engaged. In contrast, the Roelofs' religious frame of reference was made up of their generalized Protestant beliefs, which were not so distinct from the media in which they engaged-and certainly the Roelofs viewed them as inherent in much media. Likewise, the families' rules for watching television and movies were quite different, although both sets of rules were aspects of the important family project of maintaining and nurturing a family identity within their beliefs. These differences were demonstrated in the strikingly divergent daily media practices of the two families. The task of this chapter is to explore the qualities of difference in beliefs and actions of two families close to the heart, not the periphery, of U.S. society.