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Constructive rituals of demediatization: Spiritual, corporeal and mixed metaphors in popular discourse about unplugging

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The increasing mediatization of everyday life has raised many concerns about the cultural consequences of digital technology and possibilities for individual self-determination. This article examines innovative practices of unplugging that people have constructed to challenge media logic and contest dominant cultural values – by creating create times and spaces of demediatization. The media ecology perspective, especially the work of James Carey, helps to shed light upon new rituals such as digital Sabbaths, fasts, diets and detox that advocate reducing or avoiding media use. An analysis of the spiritual and corporeal metaphors in popular discourse about unplugging reveals many symbolic and instrumental meanings that motivate resistant media users, a group oft-neglected by researchers. This article considers the collective obstacles to such individual practices and demonstrates that through constructive rituals, unpluggers not only critique mainstream culture but also enact an alternative vision of life.

Keywords: James Carey; demediatization; digital Sabbath; metaphors; ritual view; unpluggers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Long Island University Brooklyn

Publication date: December 1, 2014

More about this publication?
  • EME explores the relationships between media, technology, symbolic form, communication, consciousness, and culture. Its scope is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Media ecology provides a rich philosophical, historical and practical context for studying our increasingly technological and mediated society and culture with an emphasis on historical context.
    Media ecology scholarship emphasizes a humanistic approach to understanding media, communication, and technology, with special emphasis on the ways in which we have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by our inventions and innovation. The Media ecology approach is predicated on understanding that media, symbols, and technologies play a leading role in human affairs, and function as largely invisible environments affecting the way we think, feel, act, and organize ourselves collectively.
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