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Title:The I and the Me(dia): Social Hermeneutics, Media Audiences, and Cultural Theory
Author(s):Bailey, Steven C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hay, James
Department / Program:Speech Communication
Discipline:Speech Communication
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:This dissertation examines the possible value of utilizing theories of the human subject derived from recent philosophical work to understand the practices of mass media audiences. The first half of the manuscript provides an analysis of the theoretical dimensions of this question, beginning with an analysis of the shortcomings of previous work on the relationship of subjects and symbolic fields. The dissertation then raises the possibility of using the hermeneutic theory of subjectivity, initially raised by George Herbert Mead and developed by a number of recent philosophers, as the basis for understanding practices of interpretation and self-formation by media audience members. In the final portion of the theoretical section of the dissertation, the suitability of this approach is examined in light of recent scholarship on the postmodern character of media culture and the use of ethnography as a research strategy is examined. In the second half of the manuscript, the author provides three empirical case studies of actual media audiences to illustrate the value of this new theoretical perspective. The first analyzes the cultural dynamics of a local underground cinema culture and examines the uniquely hybrid character of this social formation. The second study examines the community of fans which surrounds the widely popular rock band Kiss, illustrating the struggle for self-assertion within this culture. The final case study examines the Internet-based audience community surrounding the television program Futurama, one which an ironic self-relation is a critical feature. The dissertation concludes with a brief analysis of the way in which all three research sites illustrate varying modes of symbolic self-creation and self-reflection in the face an increasingly unstable cultural environment.
Issue Date:2001
Description:306 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3023014
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2001

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