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From mass to social media?: advancing accounts of social change

Livingstone, Sonia ORCID: 0000-0002-3248-9862 (2015) From mass to social media?: advancing accounts of social change. Social Media + Society, 1 (1). pp. 1-3. ISSN 2056-3051

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Identification Number: 10.1177/2056305115578875


I suggest that Social Media and Society will be substantially focused on questions of social change. Thus, I urge a historical perspective that avoids the temptation to consolidate the vision of mass media as concentrated, passively consumed, and unidirectional in influence by contrast with today’s supposedly more dispersed, participatory, globalized, peer-to-peer social media. I then observe that many diverse disciplines are interested in social media and express concern that while they have considerable expertise regarding the “social” and “society,” they too-often appear content to black-box “media.” This requires us to enter the fray to explain how the media part of the equation matters too. Since, I suggest, this matters whenever the material or symbolic dimensions of communication are important to or contested within the unfolding action, that is very often indeed. I then suggest some pressing questions to which I hope this journal will contribute. These concern (1) the wider ecology of communication within which, intriguingly, the dimensions that best characterize face-to-face communication are still used as the yardstick by which to judge social (and other) media; (2) the imperative to adopt a multi- and trans-cultural gaze as we grapple with (rather than presume we already know) the ethnographic diversity of social media “users” in all their complexity—including emerging social media literacy and its relation to social media legibility; and (3) larger questions of the theoretical framework by which to conceptualize power relations “at the interface”—of speakers and hearers, producers and audiences, or, today, affordances and users.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author © CC BY-NC 3.0
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 22 May 2015 13:46
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 01:02

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