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The 21st Century Media (R)evolution

Emergent Communication Practices, Second Edition

Jim Macnamara

The emergence of what are called ‘new media’ and ‘social media’ is one of the most discussed topics in contemporary societies. Because media and public communication are mostly analyzed within particular theoretical frameworks and within specific disciplinary fields, polarized views have been created with cyberoptimists and celebrants on one side and cyberpessimists and skeptics on the other. Thus we lack an understanding of the interdependencies and convergence between disciplines and practices.
The second edition of this book expertly synthesizes competing theories and disciplinary viewpoints and examines the latest data, including international research from fast-growing markets such as China, to provide a comprehensive, holistic view of the twenty-first century media (r)evolution. Dr. Macnamara argues that the key changes are located in practices rather than technologies and that public communication practices are emergent in highly significant ways.
Engaging and accessible, this book is essential reading for scholars and professionals in media and communication and an invaluable text for courses in media studies, journalism, advertising, public relations and organisational and political communication.
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Chapter 1. Introduction: Why and How We Should Re-Study Media


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Why and How We Should Re-Study Media

Communication and media have been the subject of intensive study since the early 20th century and remain fields for continuing research because of major technological, social, cultural, economic and political changes taking place, as well as their importance in civil societies. Communication has been described as “the organizing element of human life” (Littlejohn & Foss, 2008, p. 4) and identified as a prerequisite for and the lifeblood of human society by philosophers and social scientists. Psychologist and communication theorist Paul Watzlawick famously observed that “one cannot not communicate” (Watzlawick, Beavin & Jackson, 1967, p. 48). Eminent sociologist John Dewey noted that “society exists not only… by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in…communication” (1916, p. 5). In other words, society is communication, and without communication, human society—particularly a civil society—is not possible.

Media are recognized as integral to human communication. Notwithstanding the continuing importance of interpersonal face to face communication through speech and non-verbal signals, much, if not most, human communication is mediated. Beginning with the use of cave drawings, carved illustrations in wood and stone, smoke signals and drums to convey messages to others across time and space, through major inventions such as writing, ← 1 | 2 → paper, the printing press and the telegraph, to today’s ‘information age’ and global ‘network society’ (Castells, 2010), humans have found it necessary to use tools to communicate....

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