SELECT AN EDITION:
9th EDITION   10th EDITION

 

Theory Resources

DEEPEN YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE THEORIES IN THE 10TH EDITION

 

Resources
by Type




 CHAPTER OUTLINES






 LINKS





Instructors can get additional
resources. Read more


New to Theory Resources?
Find out more in this
short video overview (3:01).

Chapter Outlines
10th Edition

From the Instructors Manual


List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter 25—Media Ecology

  1. Introduction.
    1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
    2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
    3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
    4. Changes in technology alter the symbolic environment––the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  2. The medium is the message.
    1. We’re accustomed to thinking that people change because of the messages they consume.
    2. McLuhan blurred the distinction between the message and the medium.
    3. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
    4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  3. The challenge of media ecology.
    1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
    2. All environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
    3. An environment is not a thing; it is the intricate association of many things.
      1.  Invisibility of environments
        1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
        2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology.
        3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
        4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
      2. Complexity of environments
        1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.
        2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture.
  4. A media analysis of human history.
    1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
      1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because of new developments in media technology.
      2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 25–1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
    2. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history
      1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
      2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
      3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
    3. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
      1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality.
      2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement to private detachment.
      3. Even though the words may be the same as when spoken aloud, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
      4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
      5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
    4. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
      1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
      2. The printing press made visual dependence widespread.
      3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
      4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
    5. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
      1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media are retribalizing humanity.
      2. Whereas the book extended the eye, electronic circuitry extends the central nervous system.
      3. In an electronic age, privacy is a luxury or a curse of the past.
      4. Linear logic is less important in the electronic society; we focus on what we feel.
    6. The digital age? A wireless Global Village
      1. The digital age is wholly electronic.
      2. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
      3. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality
      4. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  5. A source of inspiration for McLuhan’s ideas: His Catholic faith.
    1. McLuhan grew up in a Presbyterian family but converted to Catholicism when he was 25-years old.
    2. It’s widely known that McLuhan’s ideas were informed by the work of Canadian professor of economic history, Harold Innis.
    3. But many McLuhan scholars are also quick to note the impact on his thinking of two Jesuit priests, Walter Ong and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
    4. McLuhan rarely wrote or talked publicly about his faith: “I deliberately keep Christianity out of these discussions lest perception be diverted from structural processes by doctrinal sectarian passions.”
    5. But as a comment he made during a radio interview reveals, his scholarship informed his faith and his faith informed his scholarship. “In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message: it is the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”
  6. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. As for television, Postman argued that society lost more than it gained.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  7. Critique: How could he be right? But what if he is?
    1. McLuhan’s theory suggests objectivity without scientific evidence.
    2. In other words, he used an interpretive approach to make objective claims, but his theory fails to meet most of the standard criteria used to assess either type of theory.
    3. He fails to meet the standards of empirical research.
      1. While he offers an explanation, he does not provide specific predictions of the future.
      2. He offers no evidence to support his claims nor is his theory supported by empirical research.
      3. The theory can’t be tested and has limited practical utility.
    4. Regarded as an interpretive theory, media ecology seems to fare somewhat better.
      1. It offers a new understanding of communication phenomena.
      2. As for aesthetic appeal, McLuhan was superb at crafting memorable phrases, catchy statements, and 10-second sound bites that appealed to media practitioners and popular audiences, which formed a loose community of agreement.
      3. He made no effort to reform society and chose not to clarify his values.
    5. We believe that all students of media should be conversant with his ideas and have some awareness of the impact he’s had in the past, much of which continues today.

You can access the Outline for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

Back to top



Resources
by Type




 OUTLINES


 VIDEOS


 ESSAY


 LINKS





Instructors can get
additional resources.
Read more

New to Theory
Resources?

Find out more
in this short
video overview
(3:01).

Chapter Outlines
10th Edition

From the Instructors Manual


List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter 25—Media Ecology

  1. Introduction.
    1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
    2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
    3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
    4. Changes in technology alter the symbolic environment––the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  2. The medium is the message.
    1. We’re accustomed to thinking that people change because of the messages they consume.
    2. McLuhan blurred the distinction between the message and the medium.
    3. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
    4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  3. The challenge of media ecology.
    1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
    2. All environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
    3. An environment is not a thing; it is the intricate association of many things.
      1.  Invisibility of environments
        1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
        2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology.
        3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
        4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
      2. Complexity of environments
        1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.
        2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture.
  4. A media analysis of human history.
    1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
      1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because of new developments in media technology.
      2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 25–1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
    2. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history
      1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
      2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
      3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
    3. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
      1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality.
      2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement to private detachment.
      3. Even though the words may be the same as when spoken aloud, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
      4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
      5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
    4. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
      1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
      2. The printing press made visual dependence widespread.
      3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
      4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
    5. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
      1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media are retribalizing humanity.
      2. Whereas the book extended the eye, electronic circuitry extends the central nervous system.
      3. In an electronic age, privacy is a luxury or a curse of the past.
      4. Linear logic is less important in the electronic society; we focus on what we feel.
    6. The digital age? A wireless Global Village
      1. The digital age is wholly electronic.
      2. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
      3. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality
      4. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  5. A source of inspiration for McLuhan’s ideas: His Catholic faith.
    1. McLuhan grew up in a Presbyterian family but converted to Catholicism when he was 25-years old.
    2. It’s widely known that McLuhan’s ideas were informed by the work of Canadian professor of economic history, Harold Innis.
    3. But many McLuhan scholars are also quick to note the impact on his thinking of two Jesuit priests, Walter Ong and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
    4. McLuhan rarely wrote or talked publicly about his faith: “I deliberately keep Christianity out of these discussions lest perception be diverted from structural processes by doctrinal sectarian passions.”
    5. But as a comment he made during a radio interview reveals, his scholarship informed his faith and his faith informed his scholarship. “In Jesus Christ, there is no distance or separation between the medium and the message: it is the one case where we can say that the medium and the message are fully one and the same.”
  6. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. As for television, Postman argued that society lost more than it gained.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  7. Critique: How could he be right? But what if he is?
    1. McLuhan’s theory suggests objectivity without scientific evidence.
    2. In other words, he used an interpretive approach to make objective claims, but his theory fails to meet most of the standard criteria used to assess either type of theory.
    3. He fails to meet the standards of empirical research.
      1. While he offers an explanation, he does not provide specific predictions of the future.
      2. He offers no evidence to support his claims nor is his theory supported by empirical research.
      3. The theory can’t be tested and has limited practical utility.
    4. Regarded as an interpretive theory, media ecology seems to fare somewhat better.
      1. It offers a new understanding of communication phenomena.
      2. As for aesthetic appeal, McLuhan was superb at crafting memorable phrases, catchy statements, and 10-second sound bites that appealed to media practitioners and popular audiences, which formed a loose community of agreement.
      3. He made no effort to reform society and chose not to clarify his values.
    5. We believe that all students of media should be conversant with his ideas and have some awareness of the impact he’s had in the past, much of which continues today.

You can access the Outline for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

Back to top



The screen on this device is not wide enough to display Theory Resources. Try rotating the device to landscape orientation to see if more options become available.
Resources available to all users:

  • Theory Overview—abstract of each chapter
  • Self-Help Quizzes—for student preparation
  • Chapter Outlines
  • Key Names—important names and terms in each chapter
  • Conversation Videos—interviews with theorists
  • Application Logs—student application of theories
  • Essay Questions—for student prepatation
  • Suggested Movie Clips—tie-in movie scenese to theories
  • Links—web resources related to each chapter
  • Primary Sources—for each theory with full chapter coverage
  • Further Resources—bibliographic and other suggestions
  • Changes—for each theory, since the previous edition
  • Theory Archive—PDF copies from the last edition in which a theory appeared

Resources available only to registered instructors who are logged in:

  • Discussion Suggestions
  • Exercises & Activities
  • PowerPoint® presentations you can use
  • Short Answer Quizzes—suggested questions and answers
  • Compare Texts—comparison of theories covered in A First Look and ten other textbooks

Information for Instructors. Read more


 

Copyright © Em Griffin 2018 | Web design by Graphic Impact