No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior

Synopsis

How has television affected our everyday experience? This question has generated endless arguments and speculations, but no thinker has addressed the issue with such force and originality as Joshua Meyrowitz in No Sense of Place. Advancing a daring and sophisticated theory, Meyrowitz shows how television and other electronic media create new social situations that are no longer shaped by where we are or who is "with" us. While other media experts have limited the debate to program content, Meyrowitz focuses on the ways in which television has rearranged "who knows what about whom," making it impossible for us to behave with each other in traditional ways. He shows how television has lifted many of the veils of secrecy between children and adults, men and women, and politicians and average citizens. The result is a series of revolutionary changes, including the blurring of age, gender, and authority distinctions.

Excerpt

On November 24, 1963, Jack Ruby shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the suspected assassin of President John F. Kennedy. The shooting was broadcast live to millions of Americans. Those who saw the event on television would probably claim that they "witnessed" the murder—that is, that they saw it "first-hand." Whether or not one fully accepts that television viewing is equivalent to "first-hand" experience, it is clear that television and electronic media, in general, have greatly changed the significance of physical presence in the experience of social events.

At one time, physical presence was a prerequisite for first-hand experience. To see and hear a President speak in his office, for example, you had to be with him in his office. If you read his speech in the newspaper or if you listened to an account given by someone else present at the time, what you read or heard was at best second-hand information. Live and mediated communications were once vastly dissimilar. This is no longer the case.

The evolution of media has decreased the significance of physical presence in the experience of people and events. One can now be an audience to a social performance without being physically present; one can communicate "directly" with others without meeting in the same place. As a result, the physical structures that once divided our society into many distinct spatial settings for interaction have been greatly reduced in social significance. The walls of the family home, for example, are no longer effective barriers that wholly isolate the family from the larger community and society. The family home is now a less bounded and unique environment because of family members' access and accessibility to other places and other people through radio, television, and telephone.

Even within the home, media have reshaped the social significance of individual rooms. At one time, parents had the ability to discipline a child . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.