Theater of Struggle 2.0? The Text-Context Relationship at the Age of Social Media

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In order to study the relationship between media and society, researchers often turn to audience, and this move was originally translated into reception analysis, the empirical study of the text-context nexus.
Today the text has become technological. Hall (1973/1980) referred to the text as encoding; nowadays it is made of algorithmic code. Eco (1979) saw the text as containing its own reading instructions; now social media platforms are said to “engineer sociality” (van Dijck, 2013). Iser (1980) suggested an implied reader; actual research is concerned with default settings. van Dijck (2013) depicts users as they resist, fight back or surrender in face of the control Facebook exerts over their privacy and data, which is not without recalling the “struggle” metaphors at the basis of Hall’s model, couched in evocative titles such as “Living Rooms Wars” (Ang, 1996).
Has the ideological text been replaced by the technological text? Are users once again passive? Are empirical uses of media even considered in this new research? Is meaning once again a site of resistance (Fiske, 1990)? This paper will consider and question the usefulness of reception analysis to the study of social media and participatory media culture. Is the ideological-semiotic framework (Schrøder, 2000) developed by Hall still relevant today? Is it the occasion to reconsider reception analysis? And to adapt it to the realities of user-generated content, produsage and circulation?


KonferenceOpen Conference of the COST Action IS0906 Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies
LokationUniversity of Ljubljana

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