Couldry, Nick. “Media Rituals: The Short and the Long Route.” Media Rituals: A Critical Approach. London: Routledge, 2003, 1-20

In the first Chapter of his book, entitled “Media Rituals”, Nick Couldry offers the reader a snapshot of ideas to come, concepts and ideas to be elucidated later in the text.  It serves as an introduction to the main arguments of the book, one of which is the misplaced symbolic power invested in the media. Couldry speaks of the “myth of the mediated centre” (p. 2), indicating that society’s tendency to imagine a “centre to the social world, and that…the media speaks “for” that centre” (p. 2) is incorrect.  On one level I agree with the author, in that there is no social centre to be spoken for by the media. However, I do believe that there are social centres, or points of reference, in society’s landscape, through which “social beings imagine the social bond they share as members of a group.” (p. 6)

 

Couldry seems especially interested in this facet of media: their impact on the cohesion of society.  It is here that the “ritual” of the title “Media Rituals” seems most fitting. The author looks at Durkheimian theory where the connection between social integration and ritual is thought to be unbreakable (p. 4). The question then raised is of what significance media rituals are to modern societies? Have the media replaced “shared objects of attention, such as totems?” (p. 6) Couldry believes otherwise and I agree. Global culture has diversified and expanded so much that it is difficult to pinpoint an event or object where “all society’s central meanings and values are at stake.” (p. 9). As a result of media technologies our geographical location no longer restricts our cultural and paradigmatic locations and movement.

 

However, when Couldry states that “we are not in fact gathered together by contemporary media…” (p. 7) I tend to disagree. Media appears to be something that is universal and shared by everyone, it is in the nature of the technologies. It maybe misguided of me to believe that people are brought together, whether momentarily or for an extended period of time, through these media but I stand by my opinion even if this “sense of togetherness” (p. 7) is imagined.

 

Another point made by the author that I found interesting was the need for us to remove ourselves from and “imagine a world without” media rituals (p. 12) in order to understand them. As someone who has grown up in a world full of digital technology and instantaneous communication this is difficult and I find it interesting just how ingrained media rituals are in my life.

 

While I found this article the most difficult to read it also made me think the most. Couldry raised some points I had never considered before and offered new ways to look at concepts commonly associated with media, such as the concentration of power and the merging of “media form and social form” (p. 17).  Though I did not agree with all the author said and found his language at times overly complicated and intricate the article led me to consider new ideas and ways to see the world I live in. 

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