The Social Circulation of Media Discourse and the Mediation of Communities

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Abstract

This article demonstrates how mass media, because of their extensive accessibility and scope, can serve as both reservoirs and reference points for the circulation of words, phrases, and discourse styles in popular culture. Focusing on the social circulation of radio discourse in Zambia, I examine the semiotics of the decontextualization, recontextualization, and creative reworking of media discourse outside of contexts of direct media consumption. The analysis illustrates one productive avenue for probing the linguistic intertextuality of large-scale societies, as well as the more general heteroglossic nature of language. It suggests that people's active engagements with mass media, along with the social circulation of media discourse and its intertextual connections, are key components in the construction and integration of communities.

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