This week’s topic discusses the relations between media, culture and society and what you do at the junction of it. We were also to think critically about our personal experiences with it, and how the relation of media, culture and society be seen in our lives as well as taking on key theorists perspectives.
Basically, in the lecture, the definition of media, culture, society and change were questioned.
- What is change? What are media? what is culture? society?
- What is media change?
- What are cultural/social change?
- How are these all related?
- In everyday life, in exceptional events, across both, as these intermingle?
It was emphasised in the lecture that “changing changes”. A lot of definitions were described as “media”. However, what I got out of it was that media was a type of carrier, the “in between” for communication to the mediated world.
Media relates and effects to culture and society through the idea of putting technology before culture. This came from our readings for this week, where one of the key theories were “Technological determinism”.
Technological determinism is about technology and how technology is the reason for change in culture and society. So according to Marshell McLuhan – an extreme theorist of technological determinism, media and technology is about extending the human perception and that the way humans communicate is how humans will change.
Another theory of how technology changes our society is through “Simulacra” by Jean Baudrillard. This is the idea that nothing in this world is real and that the “medium is the model” for behavior, perception and knowledge.
We can see that this takes place through the Internet. Representations of the real, comes before the real, becomes real; the way we react to things on the internet.
We were given the story of Plato’s cave in the lecture which I believed related closely to Jean Baudrillard’s idea of “Simulacra”:
“We are like people in a cave, chained with our faces towards the wall. Behind us things pass in front of a fire and this casts shadows on the wall”.
This came about when the technology of writing came about. It was believed back in those times that the human ear was the most important medium, more than the eye. This is because the ear cannot choose what it hears, but the eye can choose what it wants to see.
So an alternative perspective of technological determinism should look more heavily towards culture rather than technology, where culture chooses to adopt different technologies.
A major theorist, Raymond Williams believes that cultural change is just part of the historic process. He opposes McLuhan in the concept that each new medium cases an effect on culture.
Cultural materialism exposes political and economic decisions, with then comes the development of technologies. By this, meaning, that there is a reason behind every technology that is used – there are particular circumstances into which technologies are introduced.
For example, World War One formed large cities, then mobile population, then the start of the family home. Different technologies were brought upon to meet the needs of the changing culture.
According to Marimba Ani, the idea of culture is what “brings us together, and gives us identity, a reason for surviving – who we should live for and who we should die for. Culture is a people’s immune system”.
Through these means and theories, the relation between media, culture and society can be seen as an important one. It made me question as to how I am changed because of different technologies.
McLuhan may be right to say that technology changes society in some aspect, but things are always changing so quickly around us, there is a blur as to what effects what, in our culture today.
Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2002) ‘Theoretical Frameworks” in Culture and technology London: Palgrave: 11-38
McLuhan Marshall (1997) ‘Media and Change’ in McLuhan, Eric and Zingrone, Frank Essential McLuhan London: Routledge: 89-96