Researching Social Media as if the Social Mattered

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The institutions we have come to call “media” have been involved for over a century in providing an infrastructure for social life and have invested in a quite particular and privileged way of re-presenting the world as “social.” The dialectic between “media” and “social” has become more urgent to understand in an era when media and information infrastructures have expanded, converged, and become embedded more deeply in the texture of everyday life, while at the same time the claims of “media” to be social have become explicit, indeed insistent. This article asks what it would mean to address this new social/media dialectic head on—as if the social mattered. The word “social” is our necessary term for thinking about the complex interdependencies out of which human life really is made and the claims to represent that interdependent reality made from particular positions of power. All forms of power have invested in certain representations of the social. This battle matters, and now “social media”—the infrastructures of web 2.0—are at the heart of that battle. The article seeks to offer a plausible agenda for a collaborative program of research to address this struggle over the definition of “the social.”




Couldry, N., & van Dijck, J. (2015). Researching Social Media as if the Social Mattered. Social Media and Society, 1(2).

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