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Media Studies 2.0 David Gauntlett

Media Studies 2.0 David Gauntlett

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Published by Julie Thrasher
Media Studies 2.0 David Gauntlett
Media Studies 2.0 David Gauntlett

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Published by: Julie Thrasher on Mar 01, 2012
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03/20/2012

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My 'Media Studies 2.0' article was first presented here in February 2007. Then four years later, I added anew introduction which responds to some of the comments that have been made about it. So below youhave the new introduction followed by the original article.Note that there is now a Kindle book,
Media Studies 2.0, and Other Battles around the Future of MediaResearch
, published July 2011, which brings together this essay alongside more recent articles,responses and rejoinders. It includes brand new introduction and conclusion chapters, and other previously unpublished material, as well as a lively interview about a range of issues around creativity,participation, and social media.
New introduction (January 2011):
I haven't really felt the need to update this article in the past four years, as it still seemsstraightforward and speaks for itself.In particular, I haven't seen any criticisms of 'Media Studies 2.0' which don't accidentally disintegratethemselves on the blunt sword of their own arrogance and complacency.For example, I have seen it said that traditional 'Media Studies' and 'Cultural Studies' developed awonderful set of tools, over 50 years, for understanding the media, and that therefore we should juststick with those, not throw them away! This view can be made to sound wise and sensible.Unfortunately, it is lazy and disingenuous nonsense.Those tools, such as they were, were designed to address an entirely different landscape based ona simple model of broadcasters/publishers and consumers. They just don't work any more. (Okay, tobe fair, they work if all you want to do is produce yet another 'analysis' of a film or televisionprogramme, or if you want to consider how the industry worked 30 years ago. And the old version of 'Media Studies' is bound to be attractive to the kind of person who wants to shore up their own'expertise' – although they sit, proud and pompous, on a castle made of sand).I have also seen it said that 'Media Studies 2.0' as a theory is 'hollow and empty'. That's because it'snot a theory as such, it's a way of approaching the subject – although it highlights one set of theoretical tools which are going to be much more useful than the old set.The critics of 'Media Studies 2.0' seem happy to dismiss or disregard the rise of everyday creativityonline, presumably because they are more comfortable with the old models of communication,where media producers were always powerful institutions and so you could wheel out tried-and-tested critical discussions of power. It was easy to demonstrate your progressive credentials inthe old days – but that's a pathetic reason for wanting to pretend that nothing has changed. Is itreally progressive to cling on to a model which remains true in some cases and is useless in others – and to want to ignore the creativity of previously marginalised people and groups?Obviously, it was both fun and important to show how those big media barons are evil. And sure,they still are, and are probably getting worse. But if 'Media Studies' is a discipline which can
only 
talkabout that, and patronising ideas of 'media literacy' and the boring fruitless notion of 'genre', and –sorry, I'm sure the list goes on, but I'm asleep already – what's the point?Media Studies should not simply sing in praise of particular kinds of technology, any more than itshould always be critical of everything it sees. That's why we need an intelligent and sophisticatedMedia Studies which helps us to properly and critically understand the media of today. But you don'tget that by clinging onto the old models, especially when the very thing you're looking at is changingso much.For those who say that 'Media Studies 2.0' is little more than a slogan or a couple of blog posts, Iwould say that – being an orientation to the subject, rather than a single theory – you can find it richin detail, complex and critical, in a number of books which have started to appear about therelationships between online media, other media, creativity, and everyday life.My own recent contribution, in the bookMaking is Connecting, seeks to link everyday creativityonline (and offline) with a number of critical theories and political themes. It's not meant to be 'thebook of Media Studies 2.0', but it hopefully shows how this orientation is both critical and relevanttoday.  Article originally posted byDavid Gauntlett,24 February 2007.(Revised March 2007).(Posted with new introduction,January 2011).Print version.Join the discussion at theMedia Studies 2.0 forum, opened 1March 2007.
 
Media Studies 2.0 Article on future of media studies b...http://www.theory.org.uk/mediastudies2.htm1 of 420/03/2012 18:23
 
 Original article (2007):
In a recent interview about the newly popular concept of 'Web 2.0', following a spate of mainstreammedia coverage of Second Life, Wikipedia, and other collaborative creative phenomena in autumn 2006,I found myself mentioning a possible parallel in a 'Media Studies 2.0'. Although I would not like to beintroducing a new bit of pointless jargon, the idea seemed like it might have some value – for highlightinga forward-looking slant which builds on what we have already (in the same way that the idea of 'Web 2.0'is useful, even though it does not describe any kind of sequel to the Web, but rather just an attitudetowards it, and which in fact was precisely what the Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, intended for it inthe first place).In this article, I thought it might be worth fleshing out what Media Studies 2.0 means, in contrast to thestill-popular traditional model.
Outline of Media Studies 1.0
This traditional approach to Media Studies, which is still dominant in a lot (but not all) of school anduniversity teaching, and textbooks, is characterised by: A tendency to fetishise 'experts', whose readings of popular culture are seen as more significant thanthose of other audience members (with corresponding faith in faux-expert non-procedures such assemiotics); A tendency to celebrate certain key texts produced by powerful media industries and celebrated bywell-known critics;The optional extra of giving attention to famous 'avant garde' works produced by artists recognisedin the traditional sense, and which are seen as especially 'challenging'; A belief that students should be taught how to 'read' the media in an appropriate 'critical' style; A focus on traditional media produced by major Western broadcasters, publishers, and moviestudios, accompanied (ironically) by a critical resistance to big media institutions, such as RupertMurdoch's News International, but no particular idea about what the alternatives might be;Vague recognition of the internet and new digital media, as an 'add on' to the traditional media (to bedealt with in one self-contained segment tacked on to a Media Studies teaching module, book or degree); A preference for conventional research methods where most people are treated as non-expertaudience 'receivers', or, if they are part of the formal media industries, as expert 'producers'.
Outline of Media Studies 2.0
This emergent alternative to the traditional approach is characterised by a rejection of much of theabove:The fetishisation of 'expert' readings of media texts is replaced with a focus on the everydaymeanings produced by the diverse array of audience members, accompanied by an interest in newqualitative research techniques;The tendency to celebrate certain 'classic' conventional and/or 'avant garde' texts, and the focus ontraditional media in general, is replaced with – or at least joined by – an interest in the massive 'longtail' of independent media projects such as those found on YouTube and many other websites,mobile devices, and other forms of DIY media;The focus on primarily Western media is replaced with an attempt to embrace the truly internationaldimensions of Media Studies – including a recognition not only of the processes of globalization, butalso of the diverse perspectives on media and society being worked on around the world;The view of the internet and new digital media as an 'optional extra' is correspondingly replaced withrecognition that they have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with
all 
media;The patronising belief that students should be taught how to 'read' the media is replaced by therecognition that media audiences in general are already extremely capable interpreters of mediacontent, with a critical eye and an understanding of contemporary media techniques, thanks in largepart to the large amount of coverage of this in popular media itself;Conventional research methods are replaced – or at least supplemented – by new methods whichrecognise and make use of people's own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of 'receiver' audiences and elite 'producers';Conventional concerns with power and politics are reworked in recognition of these points, so thatthe notion of super-powerful media industries invading the minds of a relatively passive population iscompelled to recognise and address the context of more widespread creation and participation.Clearly, we do not want to throw away all previous perspectives and research; but we need to take thebest of previous approaches and rework them to fit a changing environment, and develop new tools as
Media Studies 2.0 Article on future of media studies b...http://www.theory.org.uk/mediastudies2.htm2 of 420/03/2012 18:23
 
well.
History and emergence of 'Media Studies 2.0'
Media Studies 2.0 is not brand new and has been hinted at by a range of commentators, and connectswith a range of phenomena that have been happening for some time. The above attempt to specify'Media Studies 1.0' and '2.0' is merely an attempt to clarify this shift. Its emergence was suggested, for instance, by comments I made in the introductions to the two different editions of 
Web Studies
, back in2000 and 2004. In the first edition, under the heading 'Media studies was nearly dead: Long live newmedia studies', I said:By the end of the twentieth century, Media Studies research within developed Westernsocieties had entered a middle-aged, stodgy period and wasn't really sure what it couldsay about things any more. Thank goodness the Web came along.I argued that Media Studies had become characterised by contrived 'readings' of media texts, an inabilityto identify the real impact of the media, and a black hole left by the failure of vacuous US-style'communications science' quantitative research, plus an absence of much imaginative qualitativeresearch. In particular, I said, media studies was looking weak and rather pointless in the face of mediaproducers and stars, including media-savvy politicians, who were already so
knowing 
about media andcommunications that academic critics were looking increasingly redundant. (The full texts are availableatwww.newmediastudies.com). I concluded:Media studies, then, needed something interesting to do, and fast. Happily, new mediais vibrant, exploding and developing
New good ideas and new bad ideas appear every week, and we don't know how it's going to pan out. Even better, academics andstudents can participate in the new media explosion, not just watch from the sidelines –and we can argue that they have a responsibility to do so. So it's an exciting time again.In the 2004 edition I reviewed these earlier arguments and noted that:Most of these things are still true: you wouldn't expect old-school media studies toreinvent itself within three years. But the arrival of new media within the mainstream hashad an impact, bringing vitality and creativity to the whole area, as well as whole newareas for exploration (especially around the idea of 'interactivity'). In particular, the factthat it is quite easy for media students to be reasonably slick media producers in theonline environment, means that we are all more actively engaged with questions of creation, distribution and audience.Soon after this book was published, the phrase 'Web 2.0' was coined by Tim O'Reilly. 'Web 2.0' is, asmentioned above, not a replacement for the Web that we know and love, but rather a way of usingexisting systems in a 'new' way: to bring people together creatively. O'Reilly has described it as'harnessing collective intelligence'. The spirit of 'Web 2.0' is that individuals should open themselves tocollaborative projects instead of seeking to make and protect their 'own' material. The 'ultimate' exampleat the moment is perhapsWikipedia, the massive online encyclopedia created collectively by its millionsof visitors. (Other examples include craigslist, del.icio.us, and Flickr).The notion of 'Web 2.0' inspired me to write the above sections defining Media Studies 1.0 and 2.0. Soonafterwards, I checked Google to see if anyone else had tacked '2.0' onto 'Media Studies' to create thesame phrase. This revealed an excellent blog produced by William Merrin, a lecturer in Media Studies atUniversity of Wales, Swansea, called 'Media Studies 2.0' and started in November 2006. The blog mostlycontains useful posts about new media developments. Thefirst poston the blog, however, makes anexcellent argument that Media Studies lecturers need to catch up with their students in the digital world.
Examples of Media Studies 2.0 in practice
Inevitably my own experiences spring to mind, as I have attempted to find new ways of exploringpeople's contemporary media experiences by encouraging creative responses. This began in 1995 whenI handed children video cameras to make films about their responses to the environment, instead of justinterviewing them (Gauntlett, 1997), and has continued through various projects, culminating mostrecently in the book
Creative Explorations: New approaches to identities and audiences
(2007), whichdescribes – amongst other things – my study in which people were invited to build metaphorical modelsof their identities in Lego.Other instances of Media Studies 2.0 would include:The title of the journal
Participations
(launched 2003), an 'audience studies' journal that manages toavoid calling them 'audiences' – in its main title at least, although the subtitle 'Journal of Audienceand Reception Studies' offers a perhaps inevitable translation into the language we are trying to getaway from;The forthcoming conference
Transforming Audiences
, which seeks to undermine its own title byquestioning the traditional approach to people who 'produce' media and people who 'use' media;Joke Hermes's book
Reading Women's Magazines
(1995), one of the first texts to demonstrate thatMedia Studies tended to over-emphasise its own consumption models;Studies by Sonia Livingstone and by David Buckingham, in the past few years, which have rejectedpassive models of media consumption;
Media Studies 2.0 Article on future of media studies b...http://www.theory.org.uk/mediastudies2.htm3 of 420/03/2012 18:23

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