The Media and Social Theory (Paperback) book cover

The Media and Social Theory

Edited by David Hesmondhalgh, Jason Toynbee

© 2008 – Routledge

312 pages

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Paperback: 9780415448000
pub: 2008-05-16
Hardback: 9780415447997
pub: 2008-05-21
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pub: 2008-05-21
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Media studies needs richer and livelier intellectual resources. This book brings together major and emerging international media analysts to consider key processes of media change, using a number of critical perspectives. Case studies range from reality television to professional journalism, from blogging to control of copyright, from social networking sites to indigenous media, in Europe, North America, Asia and elsewhere. Among the theoretical approaches and issues addressed are:

  • critical realism
  • post-structuralist approaches to media and culture
  • Pierre Bourdieu and field theory
  • public sphere theory – including post-Habermasian versions
  • actor network theory
  • Marxist and post-Marxist theories, including contemporary critical theory
  • theories of democracy, antagonism and difference.

This volume is essential reading for undergraduate and postgraduate students and researchers of cultural studies, media studies and social theory.


'At last media and social theory gets the collection of essays it deserves! This book not only maps out the field but is written by some of the most important contributors around today. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary times.'Nick Stevenson, University of Nottingham

'This collection not only refocuses us on the overarching questions for media and cultural studies, it should renew our faith in deep and creative theorizing about the mediated societies we have and the ones we ought to have. It is a pleasure to find so many leaders and emerging voices in the field so clearly in a mood to question theoretical orthodoxies old and new.'Chad Raphael, Santa Clara University

'Although there has been much discussion recently about the future of media studies, this collection of wonderfully insightful essays demonstrates that the future may be a great deal nearer than many had imagined. The Media and Social Theory is, therefore, with its compelling case for the importance of social theory, a "must read" volume for anyone who wishes to understand media and their analysis in the 21st century.'John Storey, University of Sunderland

Table of Contents

1. Why Media Studies Needs Better Social Theory, David Hesmondhalgh and Jason Toynbee Part 1: Power and Democracy 2. Media and the Paradoxes of Pluralism, Kari Karppinen 3. Neoliberalism, Social Movements, and Change in Media Systems in the Late Twentieth Century, Daniel C. Hallin 4. Recognition and the Renewal of Ideology Critique, John Downey 5. Cosmopolitan Temptations, Communicative Spaces and the European Union, Philip Schlesinger Part 2: Spatial Inequalities 6. Neoliberalism, Imperialism and the Media, David Hesmondhalgh 7. One Letter, Two Presidents and a Global Audience: The Shifting Spatialities of Contemporary Communication, Annabelle Sreberny 8. Rethinking the Digital Age, Faye Ginsburg 9. Media and Mobility in a Transnational World, Purnima Mankekar Part 3: Spectacle and The Self 10. Form and Power in an Age of Continuous Spectacle, Nick Couldry 11. Spectacular Morality: Reality Television, Individualisation and the Remaking of the Working Class, Helen Wood and Bev Skeggs 12. Variations on the Branded Self: Theme, Invention, Improvisation and Inventory, Alison Hearn Part 4: Media Labour and Production 13. Step Away from the Croissant: Media Studies 3.0, Toby Miller 14. Sex and Drugs and Bait and Switch: Rockumentary and the New Model Worker, Matt Stahl 15. Journalism: Expertise, Authority and Power in Democratic Life, Christopher Anderson 16. Media Making and Social Reality, Jason Toynbee

About the Editors

David Hesmondhalgh is Professor of Media and Music Industries in the Institute of Communcations Studies at the University of Leeds. His books include The Cultural Industries (2nd edition, 2007), Media Production (2006) and Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity (with Jessica Evans, 2005).

Jason Toynbee is Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the Open University. His books include Bob Marley: Herald of a Postcolonial World? (2007), Analysing Media Texts (with Marie Gillespie, 2006) and Making Popular Music (2000).

About the Series


Culture, Economy and the Social

This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.

We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:

  • Cultural consumption
  • Cultural economy
  • Cities and urban change
  • Materiality, sociality and the post-human
  • Culture and media industries
  • Culture and governance
  • Emerging forms of cultural and economic practice

The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General