The Basis of Media as a Social Science

Media is a social science which uses paradigms to explain things. A paradigm is ‘a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model’; a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, postulates and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field. A paradigm is a basic belief system or worldwide view that guides the investigator, not only in choices of method but in ontologically and epistemologically fundamental ways.

In research, analysis is important and there are two perspectives that we use: empiric-analytic (positivist) and interpretive (critic). Empiric-analytic sees reality objectively in an external manner. It sees reality as something that must be fragmented and studied. The researcher remains outside of the activities and phenomena are often repetitive, which is where we can see patterns. Interpretive sees reality as socially constructed. It must be understood as a whole. The researcher cannot be outside and phenomena are particular.


As social beings we tell stories, for example, upon seeing a photo from our holidays we can talk around the photo about the holiday and what happened at the time of the photo being taken.

‘We are storytellers; media are devices for storytelling…’

‘Technology networks us, but it is our stories that connect us’. This relationship is something looked at closely throughout the course.

No media is an isolated thing, if you looked at a smart phone isolated, you would be omitting important information such as: computers, wifi and the improvements in technology.

Additionally, by studying technology, we can see how our behaviours are being shaped by tools. Take phones for example, it is normal, even expected, to text someone before we meet them to ensure that they are going to turn up or confirming where they are.

How do we define media?

Is it technology? (As neutral devices)

Is it communication? (As a cultural/human practise)

Is it single media/isolated? (as in uni-media)

Is it context? (As under certain conditions)

Society and Media

  • Society is mythology (sets of stories)
  • Society is a system of co-ordinates of time-spaces.
  • Society is a system of shared truth and beliefs.

Mediated Discourse

  • Media are a set of devices (not single)
  • Media are interactions (agency/conditions)
  • Media is a medium/environment

Technological Ecosystem

‘Any technology tends to create a new human environment… Technological environments are not merely passive containers of people but are active processes that reshape people and other technologies alike.’

‘We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us…’ – McLuhan (1964) Understanding media, the extensions of man (McLuhan and Lapham 1994).

These are my notes from Semester One lectures
I do not own the above image, it is from:

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