Media Governance and Technology: From 'Code is Law' to Governance Constellations
Forthcoming in: Monroe Price, Stefaan Verhulst and Libby Morgan (Eds.), 2013, Routledge Handbook of Media Law, Routledge, Abingdon, New York, pp. 399-418.
26 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2014
Date Written: 2013
Social Communication has always been realized to a large degree through media technologies. Since the end of the 20th century, however, information and communication technologies are increasingly tangled up with our everyday social interactions and structures. We no longer turn to distinct media products like newspapers or TV channels to experience mediated communication; our everyday life is deeply embedded within media. Krotz (2007) and others have coined the term "mediatization" to describe this process. "Contemporary society," argues Hjarvard, "is permeated by the media, to an extent that the media may no longer be conceived of as being separate from cultural and other institutions" (2008: 105). Deuze (2012) even speaks plainly of a "media life" that we are living — not with media but rather in media.
This deep integration of media technology into our daily life calls attention to an issue that has been discussed for decades in media and communication studies: How do media technologies change and shape the way we communicate, both on an individual as well as societal, level? Whereas media theorists long argued for strong impacts of media technology in the line of Marshall McLuhan, this thread of literature has been put on a sidetrack by constructivist approaches since the early 1980s. Since then, media scholars have either focused on the domestication and usage patterns of technologies (cf. Berker at al. 2006), or postulated technology as a black box that triggers change and in some cases regulatory adjustments.
This paper takes a different stance on the relation between media regulation and technology. Drawing on governance research, regulation is understood as a complex process of ordering, including private and public law, formal and informal means, discursive and material elements. This shift of perspective allows conceptualizing technology not simply as an external trigger or target for regulation, but as an integral and contested part of regulatory constellations.
Taking Lawrence Lessig’s (1999) term "code is law" as a starting point, this chapter brings together literature from the fields of governance research and science and technology studies (STS) to tackle the "politics of information and communication technologies" (Mansell/Silverstone 1996), outlining a model of media governance with a special focus on technology.
Keywords: media governance, STS, ANT, governance, code is law, Internet Governance, governance
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