Cultural circulation of media

From Media Technology and Culture Change

The Cultural Cirulation of Media refers to the ways in which cultures use the technology they have at their disposal. For example, when computers were first heavily used, they were seen as highly symbolic representations of a special participation within the culture. Then, the technology caught on in the business world and before long, computers emerged as consumer goods prevalent in every household. At present, computers have fully pervaded our society and we are becoming incredibly reliant upon them (you can see this by remembering the Y2K scare: The possibility of a world technological meltdown exemplifies just how much computers and technology form the backbone of our society; without them, an entire world could be brought to its knees).

This term can be seen in a three part system very similar to Joshua Meyrowitz's notion of Medium content, grammar, and environment. The other two aspects are: 1) The Technical constraints of media (i.e. TV appeals to sight and sound, but TV can never appeal to smell), and 2) The Institutional practices of media that define its function (i.e. TV's relationship to economics, network TV, and TV regulators, and their attempts to define TV's use. The study of the cultural circulation of media can answer questions related to the theory of the "social shaping of technology," which states that technology is a product of the society around it. In many ways this concept is diametrically opposed to most theories of technological determinism, although this is not always the case.