Tag Archives: social theory

Buckingham, D. (2000). _The making of citizens: Young people, news and politics_. London and New York: Routledge.

David Buckingham, PGCE, MA, PhD, ACSS, is Professor of Media and Communications in the School of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. Prior, he was Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, London University, where he directed the Centre for the Study of Children, Youth, and  Media. He researches children’s and young people’s interactions with electronic media, and on media education.

“Rather than attempting to measure the effectiveness of the news communicating political information, we should be asking how it enables viewers to construct and define their relationship with the public sphere…. How, ultimately do [news programs] establish what it means to be a ‘citizen’?” (18)

In this book Buckingham tries to address why children are reading news less. “Increasing cynicism can…be seen as a result of young people’s growing awareness of their own powerlessness” (202). Therefore, we should replace cynicism with criticism, a very important distinction. Regrettably, Buckingham contends that much media literacy discourse assumes a gullible other, forgetting how meaningful social context is, when what we need now is a social theory for analysis. Explicit in Buckingham’s research were age, gender, and the very significant ethnicity, while social class was implicit. Buckingham calls for a social theory of political understanding because research suggests that while news consumption is linked with greater political participation, the influence of parents, peers, and community factors is more significant.

So how to fix the news for kids and engage them as citizens? One way to do this is move beyond the classical, extremely conservative model for the news. Buckingham joins Fraser’s (1992) by enjoining readers to remember ours is a world with multiple public spheres, and so we should create “other possible networks for exchanging information or means of cultural expression” (24) that better engages youth. It’s still important to be realistic about what news for young people can achieve, but we should move towards making their news programs more exciting. “As we move into a more competitive, multi-channel era, in which television will have to struggle against less linear, more interactive media forms, innovation of this kind may not be only desirable but unavoidable” (58).

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

Debord, G. (1983). _Society of the Spectacle_. Detroit: Black and Red.

Co-founder of the Letterist International and later the Situationist International (SI), which played a considerable part in the Paris Uprising of 1968, Marxist philosopher and artist Debord articulates a bleak and totalizing view of modernity in 221 theses.

“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles” (#1).

The spectacle for Debord is the overwhelming and distracting power not of images, “but a social relation among people, mediated by images” (#4). Whether it is concentrated, as in the totalitarian regime revolving around a sole figure/state, or is the diffuse antipode, as in the market economy-embedded society where acts of liberty are performed through purchase power, “the spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable, inaccessible” (#12). Not only is the spectacle inaccessible, it is enduring. Since revolutionaries generally operate within the logics of the spectacle, efforts to overthrow it are doomed. Complicating matters further, Debord insists a successful revolution is “a unitary critique of society” (#121). This critique is manifest action, exemplified by the SI’s favored activities, the dérive (“drift”) and détournement.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Research Fields

Castells, M. (1983). _The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements_. Berkeley and Los Angeles: The University of California Press.

Arguing upfront that sociologists and urban studies experts know much about what constitutes city form and the city’s problems, but nothing about the cause of social change, Castells sets about elaborating “a provisional, theoretical framework” (xvi) of how social change happens. Taking a express departure from Marxism’s preoccupation with production, he reasserts the city is a social social product and a site for collective consumption. Moreover, its innovations generally arise from grassroots efforts, the most successful among them, “urban social movements.”

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Banerjee, T. & Loukaitou-Sideris, A. (2011). Suspicion, Surveillance, and Safety: A New Imperative for Public Space? In Planning for/with People: Looking Bank for the Future Conference.

Tridib Banerjee, PhD Urban Studies and Planning, MIT, is the James Irvine Chair in Urban and Regional Planning at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC. His research, teaching, and writing focus on the design and planning of the built environment and the related human and social consequences. He is particularly interested in the political economy of urban development, and the effects of globalization in the transformation of the urban form and urbanism from a comparative international perspective.

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, PhD Urban and Regional Planning from USC, is Professor of Urban Planning, Associate Dean of the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. She focuses on the public environment of the city, its physical representation, aesthetics, social meaning and impact of the urban resident. Foundational to work is the “user focus” theme.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Community Development, Major Field, Public Space, Research Fields