AMS 391 • Technology and Culture
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
In this course we will examine several influential books that address the interplay of media systems, technologies and society. The class does not have a single theme or one overarching question. Rather, the material well read during the term has been selected because it raises issues concerning the social context for which media, old and new, have defining powers. Our simplest goals will be to understand alternative conceptions of society, media systems and their cultural reverberations. Theories of society are foregrounded in some of the readings, and occupy central positions in other work even though they may be more implicit than explicit. Our point of departure is that one cannot meaningfully discuss media systems without acknowledging the social context in which they reside, originate, function and evolve. Culture and cultural issues are defined and explored broadly as encompassing the common practices and rituals of everyday life as well as the long-standing patterns and values that characterize American society. The ways in which media systems or technologies are synonymous with modernity will be directly addressed in many of our readings. The social construction of technology, technological determinism, and the political economy of communication will be among some of the theoretical approaches we will consider.