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

By Joshua Meyrowitz | Go to book overview

APPENDIX

DISCUSSION OF TERMS

A new theory is more than a set of new terms or new definitions for old terms; it is also a new set of relationships among concepts and ideas. Rather than present definitions for terms in alphabetical order, therefore, I have decided to discuss relevant terms in a sequence that highlights their interrelationships from the perspective of the theory developed in this book. In a sense, this discussion of terms also presents a summary of the book's approach and arguments. For those readers who want to read only about one or a few terms, they are in bold print in the following sequence: media of communication, prediction, electronic media of communication, social situations, information-systems, information, behavior, social role, group identity, socialization, hierarchy, electronic society, print society, and media matrix.

The term media of communication refers to all channels and means through which information is transmitted among people except direct, face-to-face modes of communicating. As I use the term, writing, photography, the telephone, and radio are examples of media; speech and nonverbal behavior are not. Media are many things at once: technologies, cultural artifacts, personal possessions, vessels for storing and retrieving cultural content and forms, and political and economic tools.

My primary interest with media, however, is to view them as certain types of social environments that include and exclude, unite or divide people in particular ways. Therefore, I examine how the widespread use of a medium may affect "who knows what," "who knows what about whom," and "who knows what compared to whom." I analyze how different patterns of access to social information have different effects on various social roles.

As Raymond Williams has argued convincingly in Television: Technology and Cultural Form, media do not develop and grow in a vacuum. The growth of certain technologies and the particular uses and configurations of those technologies are stimulated by various social, political, and economic forces. A political and economic system that is interested in the distribution of goods, for example, may fos

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