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Chapter 12.pdf

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Media Studies
Michael Petit

Chapter 12: Ecological Analysis Media Ecology - view media (communications technologies) as environments - we live in communication environments that reflect the communication technologies that are dominant in a particular historical moment - study: interaction between people and their communication technologies - how media communication affect human: perception, understanding, feelings, and values Two Approaches to Studying the idea of “Media as Environment” 1. Equipment for Living (symbolic forms that comprise our social environment) - Kenneth Burke - Media Messages = afford individuals symbolic resources for confronting and resolving anxieties they face in their everyday lives - Equipment for Living = various literary forms are themselves ways of naming recurring social situations, thereby providing readers with symbolic resources for addressing those situations in their real lives - Proverb = literary device for naming typical + recurrent situations - means for quickly sizing up a type of situation and developing a strategy to respond to it - i.e. “birds of a feather flock together” = people who have like tastes commonly associate with one another - authors write books as a way of “coming to terms” with the difficulties in their own lives - Hierarchy / Order = every aspect of our lives is governed by values or rules - guilt = one of the most common recurring situations in the human condition (arises every time we violate hierarchy) - Pollution-purification-redemption cycle = strategies of ridding ourselves of guilt - 1. Transcendence = way of avoiding guilt: rationalize (appealing to a new hierarchy or third perspective) - 2. Mortification = symbolical act of atonement (confession / self-sacrifice) - 3. Victimage = scapegoating (the guilty party transfers guilt to another party) - tragedy: character can purge that guilt by “paying the price” for us - comedy: watching someone make poor choices + seeing it corrected serves as our own admonishment to avoid errors 2. Medium Theory (material technologies that are our social environment) - historically = media scholars were focused on the message / form (not the medium) - Medium Theory = the mode / technology of communication always makes a world of difference (“the medium is the message”) - each medium of communication has relatively fixed characteristics that influence communication (regardless of the content) Harold A. Innis - the exercise of political power in influenced by the character of the communication media that dominate the dissemination of information - information monopolies can be diffused or reconfigured by the development and spread of new media - i.e. Printing Press = democratizing effect (undermined the church’s monopoly over religious information + altered the public’s relation to the bible = no longer relied on the church to interpret religious texts) - Time-Based Media: biased towards enduring for long historical periods - durable (parchment + clay + stone) - characteristic of tribal / oral civilizations (decentralized + hierarchical + independent civilization) - reach only a limited audience (do not allow for efficient or easy communication over great distances) - difficult to exert direct political influence + control - knowledge is tied to tradition (preserved by community elders + religious figures) - Space-Based Media: easily being moved across vast distances - inclined towards rapid social change - lighter + less durable (papyrus + paper + television + radio + newspaper) - reach many people over long distances - less hierarchical (easier for government located in one place to govern far away places: highly centralized) - structure of government: egalitarian (fosters democratic debate) Marshall McLuhan - movable type printing = constituted a decisive break from the oral societies of the past and produced “Gutenberg Man” - Gutenberg Man = a subject who was characterized by rational and linear thought process - all human history can be divided into three major periods: oral, writing/print, electronic - Spectrum: Hot Medium Cold Medium (degree to which media are low or high on participation) - Hot Medium = extends a single sense in high definition (low audience participation / completion) - fully satiate the senses - radio + photographs + film + phonetic alphabet - brassy / big band music that overpowers and intoxicates the soul - film = hot medium because it asks very little from us + supplies all the nec
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