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Digital Orientations

Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice

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Shaun Moores

Might it be possible to rearticulate the term digital in digital media, so that it refers at least as much to the deft movements or orientations of hands and fingers (of digits) as it does to the new media technologies themselves? What if digital media are understood as manual media?

Has the academic field of media studies tended to focus too much on media, and not enough on the practices and experiences of daily living that help to give media their meaningfulness? What if media researchers were to pay more attention to knowledge-in-movement or to matters of orientation and habitation, and rather less to those of symbolic representation and cognitive interpretation?

Digital Orientations is a bold call for non-media-centric media studies (and ultimately for everyday-life studies) with a non-representational theoretical emphasis. The author engages here with a broad range of work from across the humanities and social sciences, drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy, Ingold’s anthropology, the geographies of Massey, Seamon and Thrift, and the sociologies of Bourdieu, Sudnow and Urry.

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Chapter 2. Conceptualising Place in a World of Flows

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CONCEPTUALISING PLACE IN A WORLD OF FLOWS

In the context of arguments about the rise of ‘the network society’ (Castells, 1996) and about the social ‘as mobility’ (Urry, 2000, p. 2; see also Elliott & Urry, 2010; Urry, 2007), in which contemporary social change is accounted for primarily in terms of intensified transnational flows or mobilities, I want to focus in this chapter on understandings of place. How is it best, then, to conceptualise place in a world of flows (including, but also exceeding, those information flows that are enabled by modern media of communication)? I will be attempting to answer that question through a critical discussion of ideas put forward by several social, spatial and communication theorists. It is appropriate for me to begin by considering aspects of the work done by Manuel Castells and John Urry, social theorists cited above in the opening sentence of my chapter, because, in the humanities and social sciences, they have been perhaps the most widely referenced thinkers on global networks and flows, and because they have each raised, in their overlapping yet different ways, important issues to do with the constitution of places in relation to various sorts of movement. I will then go on to look at some of Doreen Massey’s work in geography, concentrating on her interrelated notions of ‘global sense of place’ (Massey, 1991, 1994), ‘the openness of places’ (Massey, 1995, p. 59) and ‘the throwntogetherness of place’ (Massey, 2005,...

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