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Wahl-Jorgensen, Karin (2015)
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Languages: English
Types: Article
This article suggests that the Chicago School’s use of ecological metaphors has much to offer scholars interested in the complexities of the contemporary media environment. The article opens by considering how the use of ecological metaphors enabled the Chicago School to build an empirical and progressive approach to the study of human forms of organization. It then traces how the use of ecological metaphors has evolved in subsequent scholarship on media and communications. It examines the interest of media ecology scholars in the environment created by technologies, and discusses how proponents of actor network theory have expanded the view of networked actors to encompass technologies, objects and human agents. The article subsequently traces a more recent proliferation of ecological metaphors as a way of understanding globalized and networked media practices. This approach, in turn, enables the reconfiguration of questions around the relationship between media, democracy and citizenship. The paper ultimately suggests that the use of ecological approaches enables scholars to pay attention to the complexities of networked interactions in communities that are geographically bounded but globally connected. This, in turn, points the continued importance of grounded, nitty-gritty empirical work tracing the variety of communicative practices within particular communities, and the ways in which these practices are shaped by relationships between a variety of actors within and beyond these communities.
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