What is a presentational media regime? The contemporary breakdown in systems of representation

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


Foundational to both the operation and legitimation of our traditional media is the idea of representation: in some sense the images of television, the sounds of radio, the narratives of film, and the various public personalities stand in or in place of ourselves. Likewise our contemporary political system function as an elaborate representational system, where regions, "seats", electorates, the nation, and the nationstate are represented by individuals, parties and symbols. Although, there are differences between and among modern nation-states as clearly different political and cultural agendas are at play, the interplay of contemporary media, culture and politics has produced what can be called a 'representational regime' that more or less operates globally, albeit fragmented into national and regional groupings.

This paper explores the initial stages in the breakdown of this system of representation that has allowed a certain organization of culture and politics to expand and develop over the last two centuries. It acknowledges that central to this regime is something Nick Couldry has identified as "the myth of the mediated centre" (Couldry, 2003). What the paper argues, and therefore differs from Couldry's conclusion, is that there are cracks in the glue that holds the system together and they are emerging in the uses of new media. Through an exploration of presentational media - that is, media that is more involved with the presentation of the self for public/private and networked consumption than traditional media's effort to embody their audience in its narratives - the paper reaches for conclusions that identify a more elaborate legitimation crisis looming in our political and cultural worlds.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCanadian Communication Association Annual Conference Proceedings 2008
Subtitle of host publicationThinking Beyond Borders: Global Ideas: global values
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jun 2008


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