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Medium Theory

Joshua Meyrowitz


Medium theory stands apart from more generic “media theory” in its exploration of the influences of communication technologies in addition to, and distinct from, the specific content (messages) they convey. Medium theorists argue that media are not simply channels for transmitting information between two or more environments, but are themselves distinct social-psychological settings or environments that encourage certain types of interaction and discourage others (→  Media ). Medium theory analyzes differences among communication environments. Medium theory focuses on the characteristics of each medium (or of each type of medium) that make it physically, socially, and psychologically different from other media. Thus, medium theorists study how television differs from radio, but also how electronic media (including TV and radio) differ from print media (such as books, magazines, and newspapers). Medium theory also examines how communications through a particular medium or type of medium compare and contrast with face-to-face interaction. The singular “medium” is used in the name of the theory to highlight the focus on the particular characteristics of each medium. In comparing and contrasting modes of communication, medium theorists explore the influences of such characteristics as the type of sensory information the medium can and cannot transmit (e.g., visual, aural, tactile, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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