In ‘Media Rituals – The short and the long route’, Nick Couldry aims to define the concept of ‘media rituals’, while accounting for their role in everyday life, and their place in society. Couldry puts forward various arguments and interpretations in an effort to characterize ‘media rituals’, through first understanding Durkheim’s views, and then through the positive and negative reading of media’s effects in social space.
Couldry explains that there is a “centre to the social world”, and that media’s role is to fill this centre, capturing the essence of society and the ‘rituals’ that take place within it. He further explains that media is society’s access to a social centre. Therefore, Couldry puts forth the notion of ‘media rituals’ as habitual actions. This can be seen in today’s society through the use of social networking through arguably media’s largest strand, the internet. While social networking (i.e. through Facebook) indeed allows us access to the “centre of the social world”, it has become a habitual action that defines the role of media in today’s society.
Couldry refines the concept of ‘media rituals’ through various interpretations of Durkheim’s ideas, notably the fact that we as social beings, belong to a shared social whole. As Couldry explains, is an “emphatically Durkheimian” view, we as members of contemporary society are gathered together through media. We are coherent with the wider social world through our ‘media rituals’. Further, Couldry puts forth the idea of media’s place in organising social life, as a neo-Durkheimian argument, emphasising the togetherness felt through media events, in the sense of simply turning on the television or the radio, or checking a news website, in turn connecting us with the rest of society, through knowing ‘what’s going on’.
Couldry also delves into the concept of ‘media rituals’ across social space. This idea is explained through both positive and negative readings of media’s effects. A negative reading puts forth the idea that media devalues social life. On the other hand, a positive reading addresses the effect of media, in influencing both private and public life, and creating a sense of connectedness.
To conclude, Couldry effectively addresses a number of issues that pertain to ‘media rituals’ and their social impact, whether good or bad, ultimately defining the role of ‘media rituals’ in everyday life, and their profound effect upon society.
Couldry, Nick 2003, Media Rituals, London, Routledge, pg.1-20