Gershon and Manning- Language and Media

Gershon, I. and Manning, P. (2014). Language and Media. In The Cambridge handbook of linguistic anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The relationship of language and media hinges on materiality, but why?  (559)
Media can be a visible part of communication to an invisible, taken for granted element (560).

Materiality is often the basis for distinguishing language from media. Materiality denotes outside the semiotic (sign).  What people communicate is not as relevant as the material structure of the tools they use to communicate.
-Ontologically different selves when new technologies are introduced. Ex. The people who wrote with pens prior to the introduction of the typewriter were different selves than the people who typed

Attention to materiality can allow scholars to ask: to what extent are scholars analyzing how people separate texts from the *contexts* for circulation, and what ideas about authorship, authenticity, and circulation accompany these processes of producing intertextuality?

Entextualization is the process by which a text is bound and made available for circulation in other contexts (561).  By turning to materiality, one can begin to focus on some aspects of entextualization as a process in which the ways in which a text is a material form is integral to how a text can be separated from its context and integrated into other contexts (562). <–THIS IS CRUCIAL!!

The process of recontextualization always requires that texts be calibrated anew to a particular context and interwoven with the discursive strands available in that context (562). The degree to which the gap exists, however, is not something an analyst can determine simply by comparing the two contexts in question. Goffman’s participant framework (Goffman 1974, 1981) is the second aspect of communication that, focusing on the materiality of a medium, encourages analysts to unpack.

When texts enter new contexts, they are transformed and transform the context.

Technologies augment the number/kinds of participants, but also decompose the unity of participants into different role fractions which can be disturbed across multiple participants. New technologies give us new participant structures (564).

In general, people are deeply concerned that carefully established participant structures that had previously enforced certain identities, boundaries, and distinctions would no longer be possible to maintain as these new technologies shift how participant structure is organized (565).

 While focusing on participant structure encourages scholars to analyze people’s responses to changes in social interactions, focusing on what are called“affordances” allows for explanations of changes in how surroundings are experienced and interpreted (566). 

Affordances -566: the material structure of a technology often becomes a resource for people on the ground to analyze communication itself, which in turn influences, but does not predict, how people communicate. A communication technology is not only a medium, but is also a technology that people find good to think with. Joshua Barker (2008) points out that people find particular media good to think with as their language ideologies and media ideologies intertwine in their reflexive engagements with new technologies (567).

Spoken language is associated with immediacy (568); mediation denotes what is lost; immediacy is once again about materiality.

an ensemble of other portable devices forming a “mobile kit,” “reshape and personalize the affordances of urban space,” producing new “genres of presence,” “ways of being present in urban space that involve the combination of portable media devices, people, infrastructures, and locations” (570)


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