Media Discourse: Representation and Interaction

Media Discourse: Representation and Interaction

Media Discourse: Representation and Interaction

Media Discourse: Representation and Interaction


This lively and accessible study of media and discourse combines theoretical reflection with empirical engagement, and brings together insights from a range of disciplines. Within media and cultural studies, the study of media texts is dominated by an exclusive focus on representation. Thisbook adds long overdue attention to social interaction. The book is divided into two sections. The first outlines key theoretical issues and concepts, including informalisation, genre hybridisation, positioning, dialogism and discourse. The second is a sustained interrogation of social interaction in and around media. Re-examining issues of representation and interaction, it critically assesses work on the para-social and broadcast sociability, then explores distinct sites of interaction: production communities, audiencecommunities and 'interactivity' with audiences.


Media discourse is a multidisciplinary field. In addition to extensive interest in media and cultural studies, it is the subject of scrutiny in linguistics — particularly conversation analysis, critical discourse analysis, ethnography of communication, linguistic anthropology, pragmatics and sociofinguistics — and also in cultural geography, psychology, sociology and tourism studies. This diversity and spread is both a strength and a weakness. There have been developments in parallel in a range of disciplines. One concern of this book is to explore some overlapping concerns, common origins and influences. The disciplinary diversity of media discourse as a field is reflected in its methodologies. However, discourse analysis is a method that cuts across many of them, and the conventions of discourse analysis are at the heart of this book.

What is media discourse and why study it?

Very few of us, if any, are unaffected by media discourse. The importance of the media in the modern world is incontrovertible. For some sections of society, at least, the media have largely replaced older institutions (such as the Church, or trade unions) as the primary source of understanding of the world. Since discourse plays a vital role in constituting people's realities, the implications for the power and influence of media discourse are clear. Moreover, in modern democracies the media serve a vital function as a public forum. In principle, journalists are committed to democratic principles in relation to the government, hence to provision of a diversity of sources of opinion about it — a function (highly) idealised as the provision of 'a robust, uninhibited, and wide-open marketplace of ideas, in which opposing views may meet, contend, and take each other's measure' (Gurevitch and Blumler 1990:269). Everyday engagement with media, then, is hugely significant and a theoretical understanding of this engagement is crucial.

Underlying this book is a sustained interrogation of the concept of 'interaction', problematic in the context of mediated communication. There is a great deal of hype surrounding 'interactivity' in contemporary . . .

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