Symbolic interactionism and the media

Norman K. Denzin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The merger of three streams of thought into a unified perspective on information technologies and social structure defines the pragmatic, interactionist contribution to the study of the media. This merger, which synthesizes the theories of Simmel, Mead, Innis, Ong, and McLuhan, is best represented in the work of James Carey, Carl Couch, and David Altheide. These projects are extended in the critical pedagogy and interpretive communication paradigms. In this chapter, the author summarizes and elaborates upon these legacies, offering his version of this project, rewriting it to fit a critical, interpretive, feminist, cultural studies approach to the analysis of information technologies, the media, the audience, and the political economy of communicative acts in everyday life. Informed by James Carey’s theories of democracy and his ritual model of communication, the author presents a discussion that interrogates the place of critical pedagogy in a free democratic society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Media and Mass Communication Theory
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781118591178
ISBN (Print)9780470675052
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Cultural studies
  • Democratic pedagogy
  • Information technologies
  • Media
  • Media reform
  • Performative communication studies
  • Symbolic interactionism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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