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

By Joshua Meyrowitz | Go to book overview

PART III

The New Social Landscape

This section of the book looks at the potential changes in a broad spectrum of roles as a result of electronic media's reorganization of social situations. It weaves together the strands of theory developed in Parts I and II. Each of the three types of roles examined in Chapter 4 (group identity, socialization, and hierarchy) is analyzed in terms of each of the three major characteristics of electronic situations outlined in Chapters 5, 6, and 7 (the merging of public spheres, the exposure of back regions, and the undermining of place). This analysis leads to a reinterpretation of a broad field of social conflict and role change.

Each of the first three chapters deals with changes in one of the three role categories. The fourth chapter presents an analysis of the ways in which the impact of electronic media is made visible and is enhanced by subsequent adjustments in notions of "appropriate" behavior, in media content, and in rules of access to physical locations. This analysis of "effect loops" suggests that while such adjustments are often perceived as spontaneous causes of social change, they themselves may be effects of changes in media and situations.

Television is currently the most potent medium in merging public spheres, exposing back regions, and separating physical place from social place. The emphasis here, therefore, is on the last three decades of social change as they may have been influenced by the "contemporary media matrix," a matrix that has been dominated by television. * To deal exclusively with television, however, would be to distort its impact and to ignore the other electronic media that often function in tandem with it.

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*
A reasonable starting point for the study of the effects of a television-dominated media matrix is 1954, the first year that more than half of the households in the country owned television sets. 1

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