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Media Edge

Media Logic and Social Reality

David L. Altheide

This book challenges social science to address the most important social change since the industrial revolution: the mediated communication order. More of our everyday lives and social institutions reflect the compelling media logic that resonates through conversation, interaction, marketing, as well as social programs, issues and foreign policy. We are beyond the time when people take into account media matters; rather, media matters are now incorporated as a kind of social form in routine and extraordinary activities. This thesis was first laid out in ‘Media Logic’, co-authored with Robert P. Snow in 1979.
Thirty-five years on, Altheide discusses his recent thinking about how media logic and mediation is a basic element in constructing social reality.
From the internet to the NSA, he shows how media logic has transformed audiences into personal networks guided by social media. He argues that we have reached the media edge as social media have all but eviscerated the audience as a significant factor in the communication equation; mediated communication is increasingly about media performances and individual selection to promote identity.
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Preface and Acknowledgments

Extract

This book challenges social science to address the most important social change since the industrial revolution: the mediated communication order. Increasingly mediated interaction is instantaneous, visual, and personal. More of our everyday lives and social institutions reflect the compelling media logic that resonates through conversation, interaction, marketing, as well as social programs, issues, and foreign policy. We are beyond the time when people take into account media matters; rather, media matters are now incorporated as a kind of social form in routine and extraordinary activities. This is my claim, and it has been so for nearly 40 years, officially marked by the publication of Media Logic (Sage, 1979) with my co-author Robert P. Snow. That work and numerous books, journal articles, and book chapters stressed the significance of media logic and the mass media for understanding the nature of social power—the ability to define a situation. While we have known that the media are significant—especially since McLuhan’s important work—the integration of communication formats into daily living has taken us well beyond notions of “The Medium is the Massage.” This book covers my recent thinking about how media logic and mediation (some prefer “mediatization”) are basic elements in constructing social reality. Previous books delineated the role of the mass media in helping to create and organize perceptions of social reality, including the nature and impact of new propaganda forms. Journalism ← ix | x → as a distinctive social form was diminished as journalists, news sources, politicians, and numerous other political...

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