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Language-games, in/dividuals and media uses

July 8, 2008

blogging on peer-reviewed research white.pngHelle-Valle, J. (forthcoming) Language-games, in/dividuals and media uses. In Bräuchler, B. and J. Postill (eds) Theorising Media and Practice. Oxford and New York: Berghahn.

In this chapter, the Norwegian anthropologist Jo Helle-Valle combines the Wittgensteinian notion of ‘language-games’ (‘the practically formed communicative contexts that provide statements with meaning’) with the anthropological concept of ‘in/dividual’ (LiPuma 1998), i.e. the idea that sometimes our performed self is unitary but at other times it is divided, to develop an original practice-theoretical approach to media research. Combined, argues Helle-Valle, the notions of language-game and in/dividual allow us to track people’s media uses as they move in and out of different social contexts which have their own unique, untransferable, mediated social meanings. But before we can do that we must rid ourselves of the lingering structuralist notions that still haunt media anthropological research, and particularly of the received idea that there is an invisible langue (or system of meaning) ordering our visible social practices, including the ICT-mediated domestic practices that are the focus of Helle-Valle’s empirical research.

LiPuma, E. 1998 ‘Modernity and Forms of Personhood in Melanesia’. In: M. Lambek and A. Strathern (eds) Bodies and Persons

(NB to read other chapter summaries, see under “Media and Practice book” category)

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