Barnett, C. (2004). Neither poison nor cure: Space, scale and public life in media theory. In _MediaSpace: place, scale, and culture in a media age_, N. Couldry and A. McCarthy, eds. London and New York: Psychology Press.

Clive Barnett, PhD, Philosophy, Oxford, is Reader in Human Geography at The Open University. He researches the geographies of democracy and public life, and has written pieces on colonial and postcolonial discourses, critical theory and the public sphere, political philosophy, popular media cultures, poststructuralism, and social movements. He’s now working on emergent forms of public action and their implications for understandings of democracy.

“The distinctive phenomenology of broadcasting culture suggests that the ‘where’ of public life needs to be rethought in terms of the spaces opened up by spatially extensive networks of media communication” (65).

In this chapter, Barnett argues the term “production of communicative spaces” refers to both the novel, networked spaces for communication, social practice, and the institution-led material construction of these material pathways for cyberconnectivity. There are new spaces for sociability, and likewise new possibilities for engagement, participation, and meaning creation for events. At the same time, we must remember this material infrastructure is, as with any other space, socially constructed, and so we must bear in mind the political economic constraints and analyze these communicative spaces thusly.

Doing so permits and requires us to adopt media citizenship, which “moves beyond binaries between production and consumption, textual meaning and creative use, to focus on the institutional dimensions through which cultural value is produced, reproduced, and contested” (69).

“It should not be supposed that genuine public life is best contained within one particular geographic scale” (68).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Literacy, Minor Field, Public Space, Research Fields


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