Circulation – Theoretical and empirical implications for understanding media society

The rise of the internet and mobile media have challenged media and communication scholars as well as cultural and social theorists to develop new ways of theorizing communication more apt to grasp the mobile and cyclical nature of the web based media society (see e.g. Castells 2009; Urry 2008; Peters 2002; Appadurai 1997; Latour 2005).

The theory of circulation is an interesting case in point here. The promise of circulation is in its ability to recognize and describe more deeply the cyclical and translocal character of today’s mediated communication. However, in order to use circulation as a useful analytic construct for the analysis of the mediated communication, it needs to be conceived as more than simply the movement of images or texts from one medium to another. It is necessary to analyse circulation as a social process with its “own forms of abstraction, evaluation, and constraint” (Lee & LiPuma 2002). It is, indeed, the dynamics and elements of circulation that we shall look for and trace.

The research project Circulation – Theoretical and empirical implications for understanding media society sets out to explore circulation. The empirical case focuses on the discourse on innovations and the innovation system as a contemporary belief system in three developed societies: the US, Japan and Finland. The project examines workings of circulation from three different perspectives. i) Who are the key actors taking part in the circulation of innovations (journalists, producers, prosumers)? ii) What is being circulated (ideas, items, symbols)? iii) Finally, the project aims at bringing circulation as an analytical tool into a new dialogue with contemporary social theory and thus we ask: By what means is power exercised in the practises of circulation?

The project is part of the Fluid World Programme funded by the University of Tampere.

Contact persons:
Johanna Sumiala
johanna.sumiala(at)helsinki.fi
tel. +358 50 3112525

Katja Valaskivi
katja.valaskivi[at]uta.fi
tel. +358 50 3969682