People Innovation Excellence

What You Need to Know About : Medium Theory

Medium theory is concerned with the fixed features of the channels of communication and how these features are distinguished psychologically and sociologically from other media. The theory examines the relationship between human senses that are required to use a medium and the structure of the medium itself. We do not experience the world directly, but through different media of communication. These media filters—oral, typographic, and electronic—determine what we know and how we know it. The emphasis is not on the content of media (e.g., sex, violence, entertainment), but on the nature and structure of media and how these alter thinking and social organization. Typical issues for media theorists concern the complexity of the medium of communication, what senses (visual, aural, vocal) are activated to attend to the medium, how messages are constructed, the speed and directionality of the medium, and how all of these have social and psychological influence.

The influence of medium theory issues is at both the individual and the social levels. On the individual level, medium theorists study how medium choice influences a communicative situation between people. For example, it is a different experience and different senses are activated if an employer fires an employee by sending him or her a letter as opposed to speaking to him or her face-to-face, even if the content of each message is the same. A computer-mediated interpersonal relationship has medium influences that affect the relationship and differentiate it from a face-to-face relationship. On the social level, medium theories note how changing patterns of social interaction attributable to medium differences (e.g., Internet, cell phones, Blackberries) change social structure in general. Thus, the Internet has altered the speed, storage, and availability of information and created an information class including changed patterns of reading. Facebook has influenced social capital, or the resources accumulated through the relationships among people, and allows for the formation of new social networks. The major issues in medium theory are its historical development, the principles of media epistemology (the impact of predominant media on human thought and knowledge), and its social effects.

Littlejohn, Stephen W and Karen A.Floss. (2009). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory.USA:SAGE.644-645

Penanggungjawab naskah :

Gayes Mahestu
Edwina Ayu Kustiawan


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