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A pragmatic essay on media practices and processes

July 16, 2008

blogging on peer-reviewed research white.pngIpsen, G. (forthcoming) Communication, cognition and usage: epistemological considerations on media practices and processes. In Bräuchler, B. and J. Postill (eds) Theorising Media and Practice. Oxford and New York: Berghahn.

In this essay, the media semiotician Guido Ipsen recruits the ideas of the founder of American pragmatism, Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), to call for a semiotic-pragmatist approach to the current rethinking of ‘media as practice’ (Couldry this volume). Departing from what he regards as media studies’ sociotechnocentrism (partly to blame on McLuhan), Ipsen places instead sign-making (= semiosis) at the very forefront of a practice-theoretical approach to media research. Semiosis is a lifelong process that is inseparable from social practice and exchange. In other words, signs have no inherent meaning – they must be interpreted as such to be regarded as signs (Peirce). Therefore meaning cannot reside in media artefacts or technologies. Like signs, media bear the ‘fundamental quality of something in-between’ and we can only know what a medium actually means ‘within the process and practice of its usage’.

NB to read other chapter summaries, see under “Media and Practice book” category

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