Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Historicizing media, globalizing media research: infrastructures, publics, and everyday life

  • Ralph Schroeder (a1)

Abstract

Visions of media spanning the globe and connecting cultures have been around at least since the birth of telegraphy, yet they have always fallen short of realities. Nevertheless, with the internet, a global infrastructure has emerged, which, together with mobile and smartphones, has rapidly changed the media landscape. This far-reaching digital connectedness makes it increasingly clear that the main implications of media lie in the extent to which they reach into everyday life. This article puts this reach into historical context, arguing that, in the pre-modern period, geographically extensive media networks only extended to a small elite. With the modern print revolution, media reach became both more extensive and more intensive. Yet it was only in the late nineteenth century that media infrastructures penetrated more widely into everyday life. Apart from a comparative historical perspective, several social science disciplines can be brought to bear in order to understand the ever more globalizing reach of media infrastructures into everyday life, including its limits. To date, the vast bulk of media research is still concentrated on North America and Europe. Recently, however, media research has begun to track broader theoretical debates in the social sciences, and imported debates about globalization from anthropology, sociology, political science, and international relations. These globalizing processes of the media research agenda have been shaped by both political developments and changes in media, including the Cold War, decolonization, the development of the internet and other new media technologies, and the rise of populist leaders.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Historicizing media, globalizing media research: infrastructures, publics, and everyday life
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Historicizing media, globalizing media research: infrastructures, publics, and everyday life
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Historicizing media, globalizing media research: infrastructures, publics, and everyday life
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

Corresponding author. E-mail: ralph.schroeder@oii.ox.ac.uk

Footnotes

Hide All

I would like to thank William Gervase Clarence-Smith, Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, and the editors of this special issue for very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Footnotes

References

Hide All

1 Mann, Michael, The sources of social power, volume I: a history of power from the beginning to 1760 AD, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986 ; Headrick, Daniel, Power over peoples: technology, environments, and Western imperialism, 1400 to the present, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010 .

2 But see Hughes, Thomas, Rescuing Prometheus, New York: Pantheon Books, 1998, pp. 255300 , who argues that ARPANET, the precursor to the internet, was primarily developed for research purposes rather than to create a network that was resistant to military attack, as is often thought.

3 Cairncross, Frances, The death of distance: how the communications revolution will change our lives, London: Orion Business Books, 1997 ; McLuhan, Marshall, Understanding media: the extensions of man, New York: McGraw Hill, 1964 ; Marvin, Carolyn, When old technologies were new: thinking about electric communication in the late nineteenth century, New York: Oxford University Press, 1990 .

4 Czitrom, Daniel, Media and the American mind: from Morse to McLuhan, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1982, p. 11 ; see also Standage, Tom, The Victorian internet: the remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century’s online pioneers, London: Phoenix, 1988 .

5 Luhmann, Niklas, The reality of the mass media, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000 .

6 Neuman, Russell W., The digital difference: media technology and the theory of communication effects, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016 .

7 Ibid ., p. 18.

8 Briggs, Asa and Burke, Peter, A social history of the media: from Gutenberg to the internet, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002 .

9 Drayton, Richard and Motadel, David, ‘Discussion: the futures of global history’, Journal of Global History, 13, 2018, pp. 121 .

10 Pooley, Jefferson and Katz, Elihu, ‘Further notes on why American sociology abandoned mass communication research’, Journal of Communication, 58, 4, 2008, pp. 767–86.

11 Ang, Ien, Watching Dallas: soap opera and the melodramatic imagination, London: Methuen, 1985 .

12 Ginsburg, Faye, Abu-Lughod, Lila, and Larkin, Brian, ‘Introduction’, in Ginsburg, Faye, Abu-Lughod, Lila, and Larkin, Brian, eds., Media worlds: anthropology on new terrain, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002, p. 14 .

13 Miller, Daniel et al., How the world changed social media, London: UCL Press, 2016 .

14 Lange, Matthew, Comparative-historical methods, London: Sage, 2018 .

15 Josephson, Paul, Resources under regimes: technology, environment, and the state, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004 ; Arnold, David, Everyday technology: machines and the making of India’s modernity, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013 .

16 Doron, Assa and Jeffrey, Robin, The great Indian phone book: how the cheap cell phone changes business, politics, and daily life, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013 .

17 Hallin, Daniel and Mancini, Paolo, Comparing media systems: three models of media and politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004 .

18 Hallin, Daniel and Mancini, Paolo, eds., Comparing media systems beyond the Western world, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012 .

19 Stockmann, Daniela, Media commercialization and authoritarian rule in China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 .

20 Norris, Pippa and Inglehart, Roland, Cosmopolitan communication: cultural diversity in a globalized world, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009 .

21 Xiao Wu, Angela and Taneja, Harsh. ‘Reimagining internet geographies: a user-centric ethnological mapping of the world wide web’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21, 3, 2016, pp. 230–46.

22 See, for example, the contributions in Brügger, Niels and Schroeder, Ralph, eds., The web as history: using web archives to understand the past and the present, London: UCL Press, 2017 .

23 Guldi, Jo and Armitage, David, The history manifesto, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014 .

24 Mounk, Yascha, The people vs. democracy: why our freedom is in danger and how to save it, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, esp. pp. 137–50.

25 Katherine Viner, ‘How technology disrupted the truth’, The Guardian, 12 July 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth (consulted 11 December 2018).

26 UNESCO, ‘Unesco declaration on mass media’, Political Communication, 1, 4, 2010, pp. 391–7 (originally published 22 November 1978).

27 Blyth, Mark, Great transformations: economic ideas and institutional change in the twentieth century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 .

28 Hallin and Mancini, Comparing media systems beyond the Western world.

29 Chakravarty, Paula, ‘Telecom, national development and the Indian State: a postcolonial critique’, Media, Culture and Society, 26, 2, 2004, pp. 227–49.

30 Athique, Adrian, Indian media, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012, p. 146 .

31 Bardhan, Pranab, Awakening giants, feet of clay: assessing the economic rise of India and China, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012 .

32 Most recently, Roberts, Margaret, Censored: distraction and diversion inside China’s great firewall, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018 .

33 Rauchfleisch, Adrian and Schäfer, Mike, ‘Multiple public spheres of Weibo: a typology of forms and potentials of online public spheres in China’, Information, Communication & Society, 18, 2, 2015, pp. 139–55.

34 Han, Rongbin, Contesting cyberspace in china: online expression and authoritarian resilience, New York: Columbia University Press, 2018 .

35 Nye, Joseph S. Jr, ‘Soft power’, in Power in the global information age: from realism to globalization, London: Routledge, 2004, pp. 7688 .

36 Shambaugh, David, China goes global: the partial power, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 207–68.

37 Kokas, Aynne, Hollywood made in China, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2017 .

38 Doron and Jeffrey, Great Indian phone book.

39 Ibid ., p. 224.

40 Donner, Jonathan, After access: inclusion, development, and a more mobile internet, Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2015 .

41 ‘Clinton’s words on China: trade is the smart thing’, New York Times, 9 March 2000, https://www.nytimes.com/2000/03/09/world/clinton-s-words-on-china-trade-is-the-smart-thing.html (consulted 22 February 2019).

42 Moffitt, Benjamin, The global rise of populism: performance, political style, and representation, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017 . See also Schroeder, Ralph, Social theory after the internet: media, technology, and globalization, London: UCL Press, 2018, pp. 6081 .

43 Froio, Caterina and Ganesh, Bharath, ‘The transnationalisation of far right discourse on Twitter’, European Societies, 2018, pp. 127 .

44 Miller, Daniel and Sinanan, Jolynna, Visualizing Facebook, London: UCL Press, 2017 .

45 Randall Collins, ‘Four theories of informalization and how to test them’, Human Figurations, 3, 2, 2014, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.11217607.0003.207.

46 Wilkinson, David and Thelwall, Mike, ‘Trending Twitter topics in English: an international comparison’, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63, 8, 2012, pp. 1631–46.

47 Porter, Theodore, ‘Statistics and statistical methods’, in Porter, Theodore and Ross, Dorothy, eds., The modern social sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2008, pp. 238–50.

48 For the telephone in the US, see Fischer, Claude, America calling: a social history of the telephone to 1940, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992 . For Sweden, see Arne Kajser, I fådrens spår: den svenska infrastrukturens historiska utveckling och framtida utmaningar (In our fathers’ tracks: the historical development of the Swedish infrastructure and future challenges), Stockholm: Carlssons, 1994. For comparisons between Sweden and the United States, see Ralph Schroeder, Rethinking science, technology, and social change, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007, pp. 44–59.

49 Duara, Prasenjit and Perry, Elizabeth,‘Beyond regimes: an introduction’, in Duara, Prasenjit and Perry, Elizabeth, eds., Beyond regimes: China and India compared, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018, p. 5 .

50 Doron and Jeffrey, Great Indian phone book.

51 Castells, Manuel, Communication power, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009 .

52 Frankopan, Peter, The silk roads: a new history of the world, London: Bloomsbury, 2015 ; Frankopan, Peter, The new silk roads: the present and future of the world, London: Bloomsbury, 2018 .

53 Shambaugh, China goes global, pp. 207–68; Kishan Thussu, Daya, De Burgh, Hugo, and Shi, Anbin, eds., China’s media go global, Abingdon: Routledge, 2018 .

54 Hughes, Thomas P., Networks of power: electrification in Western society, 1880–1930, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983 ; Hughes, Thomas P., ‘The evolution of large technological systems,’ in Bijker, Wiebe, Hughes, Thomas, and Pinch, Trevor, eds., The social construction of technological systems, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987, pp. 5182 .

55 Ling, Rich, Taken for grantedness: the embedding of mobile communication into society, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012 .

56 Silverstone, Roger and Hirsch, Eric, eds., Consuming technologies: media and information in domestic spaces, London: Routledge, 1992 .

57 Wajcman, Judy, Pressed for time: the acceleration of life in digital capitalism, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015 .

58 Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel, Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French village 1294–1324, New York: Vintage Books, 2013, p. 58 .

59 Ibid ., p. 282.

60 Ibid ., p. 287.

61 Gernet, Jacques, Daily life in China on the eve of the Mongol invasion, 1250–1276, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1970, p. 14 .

62 Ibid ., p. 241.

63 Ibid ., pp. 106–7.

64 Collins, Randall, Weberian sociological theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986, pp. 4576 .

65 Inkster, Ian, Science and technology in history: an approach to historical development, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991 ; Wuthnow, Robert, Communities of discourse: ideology and social structure in the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and European socialism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009 ; Mokyr, Joel, The gifts of Athena: historical origins of the knowledge economy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002 .

66 Eisenstein, Elizabeth, The printing revolution in early modern Europe, 2nd edition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 . Anderson, Benedict, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, London: Verso Books, 2006 ; Gellner, Ernest, Nations and nationalism, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983 .

67 For example, Morley, David, Media, modernity and technology: the geography of the new, London: Routledge, 2006, p. 320 .

68 Habermas, Jürgen, Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns, 2 vols., Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982 .

69 Briggs and Burke, Social history of the media, pp. 70, 72, 76.

70 Alan Bayly, Christopher, The birth of the modern world 1780–1914, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004, pp. 1920 .

71 Osterhammel, Jürgen, Die Verwandlung der Welt: eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Munich: C. H. Beck, 2009, pp. 74–5.

72 Ibid ., p. 64.

73 De Grazia, Victoria, Irresistible empire: America’s advance through twentieth-century Europe, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005 .

74 Terhi Rantanen, The media and globalization, London: Sage, 2005, p. 88.

75 Ward, Ken, Mass communications and the modern world, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989, p. 132 .

76 Miller et al., How the world changed social media.

77 Noam, Eli, Who owns the world’s media? Media concentration and ownership around the world, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016 .

78 This paragraph is based on Hindman, Matthew, The internet trap: how the digital economy builds monopolies and undermines democracy, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018 .

79 Fischer, America calling, p. 266, and see also p. 262.

80 Ling, Rich, Bjelland, Johannes, Sundsøy, Pål, and Campbell, Scott, ‘Small circles: mobile telephony and the cultivation of the private sphere’, The Information Society, 30, 4, 2014, p. 288 .

81 Aspray, William and Hayes, Barbara. Everyday information: the evolution of information seeking in America, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011 .

82 Tkacz, Nathaniel, Wikipedia and the politics of openness, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2015, pp. 45 .

83 See Michael Mann’s Wiles lectures, ‘Imposing labels on ages: modernity and globalization’, 2000, summarized at http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~hafa3/mann.htm (consulted 16 October 2018).

84 Alan Bayly, Christopher, Remaking the modern world, 1900–2015, Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 2018, p. 327 .

85 Howard, Philip, The digital origins of dictatorship and democracy: information technology and political Islam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010 .

86 Hjarvard, Stig, ‘The mediatization of society: a theory of the media as agents of social and cultural change’, Nordicom Review, 29, 2, 2008, pp. 105–34.

I would like to thank William Gervase Clarence-Smith, Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, and the editors of this special issue for very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.

Keywords

Historicizing media, globalizing media research: infrastructures, publics, and everyday life

  • Ralph Schroeder (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed