Theories of Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams Perspective of Media

Theories of Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams Perspective of Media


Over the years, the debate on the significance of the medium of communication versus the message delivered has dominated the discipline of communication. When exemplifying both ends of the debate, most scholars often mention Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams. The media has become increasingly important in the 21st century. Therefore, it is crucial to determine the distinction between the medium and the content using the position of both theorists.

The Viewpoints of the Theories

Technological determinism is the main viewpoint of McLuhan's theory. The concept contends that media technologies shape peoples and thus revolutionize culture and society (Smith & Marx, 1994). Based on the medium is the message stance; the community is affected by the characteristic of the medium used to convey the content (Strate, 2017). Accordingly, technological determinism argues that the means of communication is more important than the information and thus tramples the message and elevates the medium.  Moreover, McLuhan uses the hot and cold viewpoint to describe media and its effect on the audience (Hart, 2006). For instance, a movie is hot because it only enhances visions and does not require much effort from the audience in terms of filling the details of a movie image. TV, on the other hand, is cool because it needs the audience to exert more effort to decipher the meaning of the content that the medium conveys. Furthermore, besides being a communication technology media includes all human innovations and inventions (Hart, 2006). In general, the communication media as outlined through technological determinism is a global village that constitutes several components including clothing, clock, the automobile, weapons, and the spoken word, among others.

Raymond's model derives its concepts on social constructivism. The perspective contends that the impacts of communication technologies are culturally and socially constructed based on how they are used (Jones, 1998). Social constructivism holds that society shapes technology by determining its usefulness or uselessness (Freedman, 2002). Willian, also contends that society shapes technologies through the political economy of the institutions involved in developing the medium (Jones, 1998). Thus, the development and use of technology is a matter of political and social choice. In turn, instead of media shaping society and culture, it is the social choices that determine the communication tools. Through the Marxist viewpoint, Raymond examines the power relations inherent within communication technologies and how the forms of mediation

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