A shorter version of this article was presented as a paper at the Ninetieth Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Washington, DC, August 19–23, 1995, as part of a special session entitled “Technologically Generated Communities”.
Shifting Worlds of Strangers: Medium Theory and Changes in “Them” Versus “Us”*
Article first published online: 9 JAN 2007
Volume 67, Issue 1, pages 59–71, January 1997
How to Cite
Meyrowitz, J. (1997), Shifting Worlds of Strangers: Medium Theory and Changes in “Them” Versus “Us”. Sociological Inquiry, 67: 59–71. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.1997.tb00429.x
- Issue published online: 9 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 9 JAN 2007
Macrolevel analyses of the influence of different communication technologies are more difficult to test and apply than the results of focused studies of particular media messages. Nevertheless, “medium theory” is of potentially great significance because it outlines how media, rather than functioning simply as channels for conveying information between two or more social environments, are themselves social contexts that foster certain forms of interaction and social identities.
This article uses a medium-theory perspective to address one variable related to “technological communities”—the changing boundaries between “them” and “us.” The ways in which oral, print, and electronic modes of communication each foster a different balance between strangers and “familiars” are outlined.