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Conditions of Mediation

Phenomenological Perspectives on Media

Tim Markham and Scott Rodgers

Phenomenology has become one of the most important philosophical traditions underpinning recent theory and research on new media, whether or not the word is used explicitly. Conditions of Mediation brings together, for the first time in a single publication, the diversity of phenomenological media research—from social platforms and wearable media to diasporic identity formation and the ethics of consumer technologies.

The new orthodoxy in media studies emphasizes the experience of media—whether as forms, texts, technics or protocols—marking a departure from traditional approaches preoccupied with media content or its structural contexts. But phenomenologically informed approaches go beyond merely asking what people do with media. They ask a more profound question: what constitutes the conditions of mediated experience in the first place?

Beginning with an accessible introduction, this book invites readers to explore a wide range of phenomenological perspectives on media via two critical dialogues involving key thinkers alongside a series of theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded chapters. In so doing, interdisciplinary media studies is brought into conversation with the work of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as phenomenologically-inspired thinkers such as Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu, Tim Ingold, Henri Lefebvre, Friedrich Kittler, Marshall McLuhan and Bernard Stiegler.

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Introduction: Theorizing Media Phenomenologically (Tim Markham / Scott Rodgers)

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Introduction

Theorizing Media Phenomenologically

tim markham and scott rodgers

Contemporary research into media, technology, and communications has entered a phase in the last decade or so in which it is effectively orthodox to presume we must pay attention first and foremost to the intricacies of everyday experience. Ethnographic audience studies, for example, have critiqued the assumption that there is a discrete relationship between media and audiences, arguing that media forms, content, and technologies have indeterminate and multifaceted significance within the rhythms and spaces of everyday life. Studies of digital and networked media, meanwhile, have cast doubts about the very notion of audiences as the starting point for understanding mediated experience. The circulation of information via social media, for example, is not only dispersed and multidirectional—blurring of the boundary between media consumption and production—but also algorithmically sorted, raising new questions about the agency of software platforms. There are also early signs of renewed interest in media production, not as a site for the production of media as it is experienced elsewhere, but as a form of media experience itself, with its own forms of orientation and inhabitation.

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