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The Mediated Construction of Reality: from Berger and Luckmann to Norbert Elias

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We are honoured to introduce Nick Couldry as our first speaker of this academic year. He is a professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory at The London School of Economics and Political Science – LSE .

As always: Our seminars are free and open to all, and no booking is required. Snacks and drinks will be provided. Meet us in 17 Mill Lane, Room B at 5 pm.

FULL TITLE The Mediated Construction of Reality: From Berger and Luckmann to Norbert Elias

ABSTRACT In this talk Nick Couldry will outline the project of his recent book, The Mediated Construction of Reality (2016/2017, co-written with Andreas Hepp). The book offers a critical re-evaluation and re-articulation of the social constructivist ambitions of Berger and Luckmann’s 1966 book The Social Construction of Reality while radically rethinking the implications of this for a world saturated not just with digital media, but with data processes. The talk will outline how a materialist phenomenology can draw not just on traditional phenomenology, but on the social theory of Norbert Elias, particularly his concept of figurations, to address the challenges of social analysis in the face of datafication. Elias, he will argue, is a particularly important theorist on whom to draw in making social constructivism ready to face the deep embedding of the social world with digital technologies, and more than that, to outline the challenges for social order of such a world. Elias’ concept of figuration, if suitably developed, offers a radical alternative to other concepts for grasping social complexity that have become dominant in social theory, such as network and assemblage.

BIO Nick Couldry is a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and from 2017 has been Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He is the author or editor of fourteen books including most recently The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating Life for Capitalism (with Ulises Mejias, Stanford UP), Media: Why It Matters (Polity, 2019), The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, 2016), Ethics of Media (Palgrave 2013, coedited with Mirca Madianou and Amit Pinchevski), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity, 2012) and Why Voice Matters (Sage, 2010).

This talk is part of the Cambridge Technology & New Media Research Cluster series.

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