AMU 1278 - Research Essay.docx - What does Joshua...

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What does Joshua Meyrowitz (Reading 3.1) mean when he argues that “electronic media…lead to a nearly total dissociation of physical place and ‘social’ place” and is this argument technological determinist? The evolution of technology was largely important in forming society as we know it today. Through this process of evolution, three various types of media were developed, the print media, the broadcast media, and the Internet; which is arguably the most common type of mass media communication visible today, through the formation of an electronic medium. For the purposes of this essay, I will be arguing that Joshua Meyrowitz’s takes a technologically determinist point of view when he argues that argument that “electronic media…lead to a nearly total dissociation of physical place and ‘social’ place” (Meyrowitz, 1985, pp. 42), which will be assessed through the comparison of Meyrowitz’s argument and Raymond William’s argument in his writings. Before examining the argument set in place by Meyrowitz, two key terms need to be defined. Firstly, the term ‘technological determinism’ refers to the claim that “technology is the dominant factor in social change” (Bimber, 1990, pp. 333) which emphasizes that the evolution of technology largely impacts society and social construction. Furthermore, Raymond Williams highlights this as he states “new technologies are discovered…which then sets the conditions for social change and progress” (Williams, 1990, pp. 13). The second term in need of defining is ‘social constructivism’, or ‘social determinism’ which argues that rather than technology being a determining factor in society, “any particular technology is then as it were a by-product of a social process that is otherwise determined” (Williams, 1990, pp. 13), highlighting that technology has very little impact on the construct of society, and can be regarded as a tool created by society which aids in formulating a social structure. 1
In his article, Joshua Meyrowitz analyses the impact of the media on everyday lives, highlighting that although in the past there was a distance between people, with the spread of mass media, there is very little regard for time and place as human behaviour, along with the “definition of situations is no longer determined by social situations” (Meyrowitz, 1985, pp. 44). This illustrates the impact of media on society as a whole as the spread of mainstream media such as broadcast media, printed media, and more importantly, the internet, there is a lack of boundaries, along with the fact that humans are not constricted to distance and physical place anymore. Meyrowitz also notes the importance of understanding that access to information is highly concentrated on one’s social situation, emphasizing that certain boundaries are imposed on people of different social situations, and due to this, social identities are different to the expected norm, due to the alteration of the “physical characteristics of a place” (Meyrowitz, 1985, pp. 44). Furthermore, Meyrowitz touches on

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