Carey and McLuhan on Communication and Media

Numbers of opinions from famous intellectuals take place in the broad field of “Media and Communication”. One remarkable opinion is that the communication technologies are active and determinative factors according to James Carey. Carey states, on the other hand, cultures and identities are inconsistent and can change linked to these technologies which are developed for communicating easily. Thus he believes what kind of messages people receive and how it changes them are the critical points of media and the success of communication. According to Marshall McLuhan the important part was how the message was sent. The type of sending the message was important. For example, if you are reading a book it is not important if it is a thriller like Stephen King’s or a love novel like Nicholas Sparks’. They are both sending the message in the same way so the receiver gets the message in the same way. But according to James Carey it is not that simple or mechanical. McLuhan claims that there are two types of media: hot and cold. In a hot media, less participation is required from the audience, but in a cold media audience’s participation has a very major role. But according to James Carey the communication technologies change people and the change of the people also makes the communication technologies change and develop. For James Carey there are two views of communication: The transmission view and the ritual view. “The transmission view” is what most people will define communication. “It is the process of messages being transmitted and distributed in space for the control of distance and people.” (Carey, 13) On the other hand “the ritual view” is “directed not toward the extension of messages in space, but toward the maintenance of society in time; not the act of imparting information but representation of shared beliefs.” (Carey, 15). For James Carey communication is not all about giving message and receiving message. He also considers that particular culture and time and how they affect on receiving the

messages. How they all change and are affected by time and by each other. Unlike Marshall McLuhan who insists that the receiving of the message differs according to what it is sent by and after it is sent, the content is not important. The important part is not what kind the message is. If the medium is the same, the way the message is being received is the same. The details of the receiver, time or culture is not important. Asli Zeren James Carey, “A Cultural Approach to Communications” and “Technology and Ideology: The Case of the Telegraph” from Communication as Culture: Essays of Media and Society (Boston: Unwyn Hyman, 1989), pp. 13-36, 201-230.

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