9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN29 Social Theory

2009-09-05 13:30:00 2009-09-05 15:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 13:30 - 15:00 The Impact of Mass Media and Network Communication on Contemporary Social Theory Building AA, AA.329

Key Invisibles in Visual Discourses: Beyond Castells┬┤ "basic thread of our social structure"

Manuel Castells┬┤ theories of the emerging network society, mass self-communication and a new public sphere bridge the gap between communication and other social sciences. Correspondingly, Castells is the most quoted communication scholar since 2001 and the only one included in the Relative Ranking of a Selected Pool of Leading Scholars in the Social Sciences by Number of Citations in the Social Science Citation Index, 2000-2007, on rank 5, ahead of Ulrich Beck. Castells highlights information and communication technologies as major driving forces for re-configuring social interactions, institutions and basic conceptions of space, time, power, or identity. He emphasized already in 1996 that "image-making is power-making" and "flows of messages and images between networks constitute the basic thread of our social structure", but hardly followed up on this basic thread. Therefore, this presentation combines insights from social theory with a concrete empirical media contents study and aims at clarifying the following issues: (1) An account of mass mediated self-observations of the United States and Germany via TV annual reviews, 1999-2008, with a special focus on the presentation of state heads vs. common people in order to detect patterns and trends of power presentation ratios and types of "Key Visuals" of power relationships. (2) A specification of topics, types of actors and social situations and their analysis under the aspect of "Key Invisibles": this detection of (visual) neglections from 1999 to 2008 will be based on our quantitative content analyses and their comparison with other news analyses, news neglections detected by project censored or www.nachrichtenaufklaerung.de and the Human Development Reports from the same period. Combining these analyses shall lead (3) to the specification of this TV flow of images as a combination of Key Visuals and Key Invisibles: If image making is power making, mass mediated Key Visuals and Key Invisibles constitute a so far neglected data source for sociological inquiries into power (presentation) shifts.