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medium theory


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A mode of analysis focusing on the nature and significance of the specific characteristics of a particular medium of communication (see affordances; modality) and on technical, social, and psychological differences between media (see also bias; cuelessness; immediacy; neutrality; parasocial interaction; presence; psychological distance; social presence). Comparisons range from specific media (such as radio vs television) and types of media (such as print media vs electronic media), to, most broadly, mediated communication vs face-to-face interaction. Despite McLuhan's insistence that ‘the medium is the message’ (see McLuhanism), a focus on the medium need not be at the expense of a concern with the implications for content. Analysis can be at the micro-level (see personal functions), or at the macro-level (see media functions). The term was coined by Meyrowitz, reflecting the focal concerns of scholars such as Innis, McLuhan, and Ong. See also communication technologies; media ecology; media environment; media richness; mediation; sense ratio; compare media theory.

Subjects: Media Studies.


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