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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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Preface and Acknowledgements

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Like an earlier book of mine that was published back in 2000 (Media and Everyday Life in Modern Society), the present one is a selection of my previously published pieces, most of them appearing here in an extensively revised form, along with a newly authored introductory chapter in which I seek to advance a distinctive position. Therefore, Digital Orientations: Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice can be viewed as a second volume of collected essays, written over a period of some 10 to 15 years. Whereas the first volume brought together research that I had carried out between the mid 1980s and the late 1990s, this book assembles a range of my academic writings produced from the beginning of the 2000s through to the middle of the current decade.

Taking a retrospective look now, across the whole 30 years and more since I started out in the field of media studies, I am able to see both continuities and shifts in my work. In some ways, then, following my initial empirical research projects, which were on the arrival of early radio and satellite television in household and neighbourhood cultures, it feels as though I have been doing much the same thing all along! This is because I find myself returning, again and again, to an interest in trying to grasp the significance of media uses, usually the uses of new media technologies, in broader circumstances of day-to-day living, and in that respect the two...

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